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Loretta Renford, nurse and community activist <br> Feb. 16, 1942 -- Feb. 23, 2009

Loretta Renford, longtime community activist from Buffalo's East Side, died Monday in Erie County Medical Center after a long illness. She was 67.

Ms. Renford was a member of the City of Buffalo's Commission on Citizens Rights and Community Relations, which was set up in 2000 to improve ethnic and race relations and to monitor claims of police misconduct.

She also was a founder of Concerned Citizens Against Police Abuse.

"There was not a classier woman who walked the City of Buffalo. I will miss her ability to break down barriers. Black or white, she wasn't having it," said Michele Johnson, a member of the Mayor's Anti-Flipping Task Force.

Johnson worked with Ms. Renford on anti-flipping housing issues before the task force was established.

"When you're a volunteer, sometimes you stand by yourself fighting. If Loretta got word of it, she would be right there for you. Loretta would be that person to stand with you regardless," Johnson said.

When police, who had the wrong address, mistakenly raided Dianna Goodwin's Kensington Avenue home in 1997, Goodwin's son -- who was 11 at the time -- was traumatized. As a result, he was diagnosed with a post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ms. Renford, Goodwin said, came to her aid.

"When I was stumbling around in the dark trying to fight police brutality, [Ms. Renford] was the one who turned on the light so I could see what I was doing. Every time I felt like giving up, she told me to stand and fight," said Goodwin, a community activist who unsuccessfully sued the Buffalo Police Department over that raid.

Goodwin, who went back to school to get a degree in legal administration, hopes to carry on Ms. Renford's legacy of activism.

"[Buffalo] has lost a fighter, but I'm glad she taught me everything she knew, because the fight will continue."

Born in Cleveland, Ms. Renford attended Bennett High School and earned a nursing degree from the Buffalo School of Practical Nursing at Fosdick-Masten Vocational School.

Ms. Renford worked in the medical oncology department at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. After her retirement, she provided private nursing care for the elderly.

Survivors include a son, Darren; a daughter, Tarren; a brother, Charles A. Fraiser; and a sister, Carol Austin.

A memorial service will be at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Emanuel Temple Church of God in Christ, 701 Kensington Ave.


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