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A memorial service will be held Friday for Joan Levine, who retired last winter as executive director and founder of Prevention-Focus, which offers programs to prevent drug and alcohol abuse.

Ms. Levine, 62, died Wednesday (March 22, 1995) in Buffalo General Hospital of cancer.

The memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday in Congregation Havurah, 6320 Main St., Amherst.

She had long been a leader in the fight for women's rights locally. She served as public affairs director for Planned Parenthood and was a founder of the Western New York Coalition for Freedom of Choice, organizing lobbying caravans to Albany and Washington.

In 1990, she established the Found Women Award to honor local women over the age of 55 for recovering from addictions and going on to help others; for creativity in reinventing their lives; and for having a significant impact in the community.

Ms. Levine was inspired to start the award when she learned that the late Albertine Martorana, who ran the newsstand in her office building, had cared for some 200 foster children during her lifetime.

"She was like a found object," she later recalled.

"She communicated. She fought. She lobbied. She pushed and she pushed," recalled Carolyn Morell, an assistant professor of social work at Niagara University, at last June's award luncheon.

"She is the most gracious person I've ever met in the human services field," said Dick Gallagher, executive Director of Alcohol and Drug Dependency Services.

Ms. Levine, who was born in Albany and graduated from Cornell University and the University of Buffalo School of Social Work, recived many other awards throughout her career. Among them were the Pioneer Award from the Erie County Coalition Against Family Violence and the Women's Health Award from Planned Parenthood for "her significant contributions to the field of women's health."

Ms. Levine is survived by two sons, David of Washington, D.C., and Michael, of Tampa, Fla.


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