Cheektowaga bid farewell Tuesday to one of its most prominent citizens.
Julia Boyer Reinstein died Saturday at the age of 91, and dozens of family, friends and fellow Cheektowagans gathered at Tuesday morning's memorial service to remember her.
And, in a way, thank her.
"She definitely shaped Cheektowaga in a lot of ways," said Town Historian Mary Holtz.
Mrs. Reinstein had long been known as Cheektowaga's "great lady."
She was a philanthropist. She and her husband -- the late Dr. Victor Reinstein, a Cheektowaga physician, landowner and developer -- believed in giving back to the community. And they did.
The Reinsteins donated land for Stiglmeier Park and 269 acres nearby for a nature preserve. They donated, or helped finance, the Anna M. Reinstein Library on Harlem Road, the Julia Boyer Reinstein Library on Losson Road, Nokomis Park and the Julia Boyer Reinstein Center of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society on Nottingham Terrace in Buffalo.
"Their accomplishments will long be remembered," said her stepson, Robert Reinstein. "We cannot separate them or their achievements without thinking of them both."
Mrs. Reinstein was a teacher and historian. She promoted preserving local history and was Cheektowaga's first and only historian from 1953 to 1992. She was the first president of the Municipal Historians of New York and helped create 28 historical societies in Erie County.
"She was the moving force behind so many projects in Cheektowaga and Erie County," said Dick Grimm, the family's attorney. "Western New York is better because of this lady."
Mrs. Reinstein was an environmentalist and longtime voice for women's rights. She was a mentor and started a women's studies program at her alma mater Elmira College. She may have ruffled feathers at times, friends said, but you knew where she stood.
"She was a powerful woman, an innovator. She made things happen and she got things done," said Carol Speser, a friend and founder of Buffalo's Gay and Lesbian Community Network. "She served as a role model for me and probably many women in this world, too."
Mrs. Reinstein was a lover of literature and education. First appointed to the Cheektowaga Library Board in 1959, she was instrumental in helping Cheektowaga libraries.
In fact, it was only fitting Tuesday's memorial service was held at the library on Losson Road which was named in her honor. The library was a dream of hers that finally came about in 1996.
"I realized how important libraries are to provide the extra background the public schools can't give adequately," she said before the 1996 opening. "For me, it's one of the last jobs I wanted to achieve in my lifetime."