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Margaret Roblin, energetic leader of arts panel, fundraiser for ALS Jan. 4, 1948 -- Oct. 29, 2008

When plans to place a 12-foot-tall abstract sculpture called "Guardian Angel" in a police station met a political roadblock in 2001, Margaret Roblin, chairwoman of the Buffalo Arts Commission, stood her ground.

A committee of art experts had recommended the work, after which the commission held two public meetings on the proposal to install it in the station house, she pointed out. "We don't feel it's right to go back through the process another time. You can't please everyone," Mrs. Roblin said. Nevertheless, the police never got their "Guardian Angel."

Mrs. Roblin showed similar grit during her 3 1/2 -year fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. Determined to help find a cure, she helped organize "Dancin' in the Rain," a fundraiser last June that collected more than $250,000 for research.

Though she died Wednesday in her Buffalo home at age 60, she will be long remembered at ALS Therapy Development Institute in Cambridge, Mass., where that money is funding more scientists and laboratory equipment, said Derek Breau, Northeast regional director.

Mrs. Roblin and her husband, Daniel A. Roblin III, not only introduced the nonprofit biotechnology company to Buffalo "but helped to inspire others around the country," Breau said. "When word got out that they raised $250,000 for ALS, other groups used that as a target figure." Those efforts have raised total contributions this year to nearly $1 million, he said.

"People like Maggie are our inspiration," Breau said. "What she did has gone far beyond Buffalo."

Mrs. Roblin, who headed the volunteer arts commission from 1995 to 2007 and also served on the Erie County Cultural Resources Advisory Board, was "a tireless champion for art and culture," said Celeste M. Lawson, executive director of the Arts Council in Buffalo and Erie County.

But Mrs. Roblin was valued for her "big heart, gracious demeanor and fun-loving personality" as much as for her leadership in promoting and preserving public art, Lawson added.

Born Margaret Bisland in Scotland, Mrs. Roblin came to Buffalo with her family as a child and attended schools here and in her native land before graduating from Bishop Neumann High School and the University at Buffalo. She later was an insurance agent.

A stylish dresser and party-maker, she attended the Masters golf tournament, the Kentucky Derby, 10 Super Bowls and several Pro Bowls.

Mrs. Roblin had a second home in Boca Raton, Fla., where she was a member of the Boca Raton Resort & Club. She belonged to the Garret Club, the Buffalo Club, the Buffalo Tennis & Squash Club, the Westwood Country Club and the Cherry Hill Club, as well as the Metropolitan Club in New York City.

In addition to her husband, survivors include her mother, Betty Bisland, and a brother, Jack Bisland.

A memorial service will be held at noon Monday in Temple Beth Zion, 805 Delaware Ave.

-- Tom Buckham

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