Margaret H. Strasner was a tireless fighter on behalf of her Hamlin Park neighborhood, helping it to become not only one of the city's most stable communities, but also to be designated as the largest and first predominantly African-American preservation district in the city.
Mrs. Strasner, president of the Hamlin Park Taxpayers Association, died Monday (Sept. 25, 2000) in Sisters Hospital after a long illness. She was 71.
Born in Pensacola, Fla., she moved to Buffalo in 1948. In the 1950s, she worked as a licensed beautician. In 1965, she joined the staff of the Community Action Organization, where she was both equal employment opportunity and affirmative-action officer and administrative assistant to the executive director. She continued to work until shortly before her death.
Mrs. Strasner and a few other Humboldt Park-area residents formed the Humboldt Park Family Association, which in 1966 became the Hamlin Park Taxpayers Association. The organization, with her help, grew into a strong force for community development in Hamlin Park, attracting federal funding for code enforcement to help improve derelict properties in the neighborhood in the late 1960s.
Mrs. Strasner also held other positions in the taxpayers association, including treasurer, before being elected its president in October 1997.
"She was a fighter," said Beatrice Berman, another founding member of the association and longtime friend of Mrs. Strasner. "She was fearless in terms of her willingness to take on the mayor and the Council on behalf of our community. She was such a driving force in the organization. She will be missed."
Perhaps the biggest feather in the cap of Mrs. Strasner and the rest of the Hamlin Park Taxpayers Association was the conclusion of a nine-year effort to have the neighborhood designated a historic preservation district in 1998. A large part of the goal was not only to preserve one of the city's stronger neighborhoods, but also a community with architectural integrity and a rich African-American history.
For her efforts, Mrs. Strasner was recognized by Mayor Anthony M. Masiello's office during a ceremony last October. Also last year, she became the first African-American woman appointed to serve on the city's Preservation Board. In 1996, the Buffalo Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs presented her its 1996 Sojourner Truth Award.
Her husband, Andrew A. Sr., died in 1995.
She is survived by a daughter, Mary; three sons, Andrew Jr., Michael and Marvin; a sister, Mary Skinner of Mobile, Ala.; nine grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.
A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Monday in Abundant Life Scripture Center, 86 Vermont St. Interment will be in Forest Lawn.