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Monroe Fordham, Buffalo State history professor ; Oct. 11, 1939 -- June 13, 2012

Monroe Fordham, a retired history professor at Buffalo State College, died Wednesday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital following a short illness. The Town of Tonawanda resident was 72.

Born in Parrott, Ga., Mr. Fordham moved to Orlando, Fla., in 1948 and attended Orange County Public Schools, graduating from Jones High School in 1957.

He received a bachelor's degree in 1962 and a master's degree in 1966 from Kansas State Teachers College at Emporia, now Emporia State University.

He taught social studies in Wichita Public Schools and was coordinator of Black Studies at Wichita State University for one year before joining the history faculty at Buffalo State College in 1970. He received his Ph.D. in history in 1973 from the University at Buffalo.

During his 28-year tenure at Buffalo State College, he chaired the History Department for nine years and was the interim associate dean for one year. Throughout his career, he pioneered many initiatives aimed at preserving state and regional African American historical sources. He also worked with various community groups in developing records management and preservation programs.

He retired from the college in 1998.

Mr. Fordham was the author of two books, "Major Themes in Northern Black Religious Thought, 1800-1860" and "History of Bethel A.M.E. Church, Buffalo New York." From 1977 to 2008, he was editor of Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, an interdisciplinary journal published two times a year.

In 1993, he was the recipient of the "Outstanding Alumni Award" from Emporia State University, where he was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame the following year.

In 2002, Buffalo State College established the Monroe Fordham Center for Regional History. And he received the Herbert H. Lehman Prize for Distinguished Service to New York history awarded by the New York Academy of History.

For more than 20 years, he and his wife were active members of Bethel A.M.E. Church, where he was a longtime Sunday School teacher. The couple later joined First Shiloh Baptist Church, where he was active with the Sunday SCHool, the History Committee and the Laymen's League.

Surviving are his wife of 52 years, the former Freddie Mae Harris; two daughters, Cynthia Woods and Pamela; one son, Barry; two sisters, Vera Thomas and Evelyn Williams; and one brother, Mancefield.

His family will receive friends Tuesday from 11 a.m. to noon at First Shiloh Baptist Church, 15 Pine St., followed by funeral services at noon.