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Robbie A. Wanzer, 84, who broke racial and social barriers in New York City in the 1940s and 1950s, died Tuesday (Jan. 18, 2000) in Millard Fillmore Hospital after a brief illness.

Born Robbie Amos in Troy, Ala., she moved with her family to Lackawanna as a girl, then to Niagara Falls, where her father, Elder James Amos, established the city's first Church of God in Christ in 1924.

After the family came to Buffalo in 1926, she attended Schools 12 and 32 and Fosdick-Masten High School.

She moved to New York City in 1941 and was among the first African-American women to drive a trolley. She went on to break racial barriers in highly visible positions at Macy's, the Social Security Administration and New York Telephone Co. She had been a resident of the Bronx since 1963 and just recently returned to Buffalo.

An avid traveler, she visited Native American reservations in the West, the beaches of Hawaii and the pyramids in Egypt. On many trips, including several to the Holy Land, she served as tour organizer and guide.

She and her husband, Erskine Wanzer, were married in 1947. They worked with several community and church organizations distributing food, clothing and encouragement to the needy.

In addition to her husband, survivors include a sister, Pearl Williams.

Services will be held at 12:30 p.m. today in H. Alfred Lewis Mortuary, 968 Jefferson Ave., after a wake at 11:30. Burial will be in Ridge Lawn Cemetery, Cheektowaga.


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