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Elizabeth Lenna Fairbank, philanthropist; Dec. 16, 1923 -- April 15, 2011

JAMESTOWN -- Elizabeth Lenna Fairbank, a philanthropist and civic leader active in community renewal in Jamestown, Lakewood and Chautauqua Institution, died Friday in her Lakewood home. She was 87.

Betty Fairbank was the widow of Jamestown industrialist Reginald "Reg" Lenna, who was president and chief executive officer of the Blackstone Corp. She was president and chairwoman of the foundation created in their names and was a founding member of the Robert H. Jackson Center and the Reg Lenna Civic Center Advisory Board.

A Chautauqua Institution trustee from 1984 to 1992, she continued serving on numerous committees there through 2000. The Lennas built a recital hall at Chautauqua that was named in her honor and led the drive to renovate the Main Gate Welcome Center.

In 1999, she bought and renovated the historic Packard Manor, the largest private home in Chautauqua. She also purchased the Catholic House at Chautauqua and renovated it.

She was a founding member and trustee of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and a founding member of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. She was a major contributor to the Chautauqua Avenue renewal project in Lakewood.

She was a member of the HSBC Bank Chautauqua Advisory Board and a board member of the Blackstone Corp. and WCA Hospital.

Born Elizabeth Smith in Louisville, Ky., she moved to Jamestown with her family as a child. She was a graduate of SS. Peter & Paul School, Jamestown High School and Jamestown Community College. She married Lenna in 1961. He died in 2000.

In 2002, she married Joseph A. Fairbank, owner of Fairbank Farms in Ashville. He died last year.

She was named Jamestown Community College Alumna of the Year in 1991 and received the JCC Foundation's John D. Hamilton Award in 2005. She received an honorary doctorate from St. Bonaventure University and the Paul Harris Fellow Award from the Foundation of Rotary International.

A longtime member of SS. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, she helped in its complete remodeling. She received the Bishop's Medal from the Diocese of Buffalo and the St. Thomas Award from the Academy of the Holy Family in Jamestown.

Surviving are a daughter, Nancy, and a sister, Jane Page.

A Mass of Christian Burial was offered Tuesday morning in SS. Peter & Paul Church.


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