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Gloria J. Parks, 87, activist in University District
Dec. 29, 1923 -- Oct. 15, 2011

She was tear-gassed during a Vietnam War protest at the University at Buffalo.

She lobbied city, state and federal officials for funds to start programs for youths and senior citizens.

And as a result of her efforts as an activist in the University District, a community center was named in her honor.

Gloria J. Parks, a homemaker who became a community leader, died Oct. 15 in DeGraff Hospital Skilled Nursing Facility. She was 87.

Born Gloria Greaney in Buffalo, she attended Immaculate Conception Catholic School and Nardin Academy.

Mrs. Parks, a member of the Erie County Democratic Party, served as an elections inspector since World War II.

She became a community leader during the late 1960s, when students from the nearby UB campus tried to burn the flag from St. Joseph University School during Vietnam War protests. She was tear-gassed during police efforts to dispel the crowd.

As a grass-roots leader, Mrs. Parks worked with Marching Mothers during the 1970s to bring awareness to a need for services in the University Heights area. The group became Concerned Parents of the University Area.

She was the president of the University Heights Development Association for many years. In 1992, a community center was built and named in her honor at 3242 Main St.

She also served as a community board member for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. She was involved with the planning of the Metro Rail and was instrumental in getting the LaSalle station built.

Mrs. Parks was a member of St. Joseph University Church and its the Altar and Rosary Society. Also, Mrs. Parks was active in the Mother's Club at St. Joseph University School during the years her children attended school there.

Mrs. Parks received many awards and honors, including a citation in 1971 for Meritorious and Distinguished Service by the Veterans of Foreign Wars; a Volunteer Activist Award in 1978 from the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County; the University Heights Community Development Association's Community Service Award in 1979, 1993 and 1997; the 1981 Patriot Award from the Diocesan Union of Holy Name Societies; a Certificate of Commendation in 1985 from the NFTA; and Top Democrat by the Frontier Democratic Club and Democratic Town Chairs Association in 1997. She was honored by a City of Buffalo Common Council resolution in 1986.

Her husband of 49 years, Samuel, died in 1991.

Surviving are four daughters, Margaret Schaefer, Elizabeth Schaefer, Eileen Pfeil and Kathleen Warsocki; three sons, Samuel, Clifford and Eugene; and two brothers, Gerald Greaney and Richard Greaney.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 28 in St. Joseph University Church, 3269 Main St.

[d/williams]

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