March 27, 1933 – Dec. 24, 2014
Elizabeth Nora “Lizzie” Burgos, who was honored by President Ronald Reagan in the White House in 1986 for helping to create a Buffalo magnet school in the 1980s, died Wednesday in her home in Buffalo’s Fruit Belt after a short illness. She was 81.
Mrs. Burgos was recognized as “a hero in the battle” for her work in redesigning the curriculum of Futures Academy School 37 in the Fruit Belt.
Born in Buffalo, the third of seven children, the former Elizabeth Lidge earned a Regents diploma from Fosdick-Masten High School in 1951.
After living in Philadelphia and Camden, N.J., Mrs. Burgos returned to Buffalo in 1960 and raised 11 children in a home that was known as “The Community House” because it was always open to friends. She hosted an annual Christmas brunch.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Buffalo State College in 1975, and received an award as a distinguished member of the minority graduating class. She complete a master’s degree in guidance counseling in 1983, then worked in the Buffalo schools as a guidance counselor. She retired in 1996.
In retirement, she traveled the world. She was an avid reader and enjoyed talking at length about history and current events.
She was active in civil rights protests in the 1960s and led a student boycott at School 6. She formed a parents’ group to take part in the selection process for Buffalo school administrators and was one of the original members of BUILD.
As president of the Parent Teacher Organization for School 37, she spearheaded the adoption of the new curriculum that converted it into the award-winning Futures Academy Magnet School.
As an organizer of the Fruitbelt Homeowners and Tenants Council, she developed numerous community programs and encouraged the University at Buffalo to establish a dental office in the neighborhood.
She also served on the boards of directors of the Community Action Organization, the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers, Fruitbelt Redevelopment and the Neighborhood Housing Association. During her term as CAO board president, she helped establish a credit union.
Mrs. Burgos was a lifelong member of Saint’s Home Church of God in Christ, was active in various auxiliary groups, taught a Bible study class and served on the Mothers’ Board. In 2006, she earned her missionary license from the New York Western Second Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction.
Her husband of 42 years, Carlos G., died in 1996.
Survivors include four daughters, Cynthia, Teresa Turpin, Victoria McFadden-Burgos and Kristina; three sons, Ramon, Conrad and Abdus Andrew; two brothers, Adam Lidge Jr. and Richard Lidge Sr.; a sister, Donna Smith; 28 grandchildren; 27 great-grandchildren; and five great-great-grandchildren.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Saint’s Home Church of God in Christ, 323 Winspear Ave.