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STEPHANIE BRAINARD ALEGRE DIES AT 53; SOCIAL ACTIVIST SUPPORTED LOCAL ARTS

Stephanie Brainard Alegre, a well-known and much-loved member of Buffalo's arts community, died Tuesday (Dec. 28, 1999) after a long illness in the Snyder home of her daughter and son-in-law, Jennifer A. and Benson Hendricks-Hoffman. She was 53.

Mrs. Alegre was a Buffalo native, a resident of the Buffalo area most of her life and a Lewiston resident when she died. An arts promoter, musician and social activist, she was the founder of Leo Sun Productions, which drew on her interests in alternative therapies, the healing arts and the African healing drum. The company brought musicians, feminist authors and artists to Western New York for performances and seminars.

Mrs. Alegre graduated from Kenmore West High School and attended Bryant & Stratton Business Institute and Canisius College. She had a strong link to many of the region's social-services efforts, having served as a program director for the Buffalo Area Metropolitan Ministries' Food for All program and as a housing specialist for Belmont Shelter Corp.

She worked extensively with The Buffalo News Neediest Fund and was on the staff of the 1993 World University Games as the Western New York torch relay liaison. In that capacity, she helped organize a torch exchange ceremony among Native Americans, Americans and Canadians on the Peace Bridge prior to the Games.

In 1992, Mrs. Alegre and her husband of 13 years, Mitchell R., received the Volunteer Arts Award from the Langston Hughes Institute of Buffalo for their support of African and African-American cultural projects. Mrs. Alegre was also a board member of the Buffalo Arts Studio.

Four years ago, she learned that she had cancer. In a 1998 interview with The News, she talked about how deeply moved she and her husband were to learn that friends from the city's arts and social-services circles were organizing a benefit to help offset medical expenses.

"This experience, over and over and over, affirmed that we are children of an incredibly loving universal power, that we all carry a spark of the divine in us," Mrs. Alegre said in that interview. "There aren't words to describe what this has taught us."

Friends and family will always remember how many activities Mrs. Alegre continued to pursue during her illness, said her daughter, Mrs. Hendricks-Hoffman.

"She fought for a long time," she said. "Her spirit was so great through the end. She didn't die with any regrets."

In addition to her husband and daughter, Mrs. Alegre is survived by her mother, Janice Brainard Chase of Getzville; two stepchildren, Matthew B. and Tara I. Alegre, both of Warsaw; two sisters, Sandra Chase Miller of Buffalo and Sara Natalie Chase of Wilmington, N.C.; and a brother, Stuart Neelis Chase of Sun Valley, Calif.

A service will be held at 9:30 a.m. Friday in St. John's-Grace Episcopal Church, 51 Colonial Circle. Interment will be in Forest Lawn.

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