Dorothy Holloway Westhafer, 91, a co-founder of the Kenan Center Arts Council and enthusiastic supporter of the arts and advocate for the preservation of green space, died Thursday (Feb. 11, 2021) in Niagara Hospice in Lockport after a short illness. A resident of Grand Island for more than 30 years, she had lived at Brookdale Memory Care Center in North Tonawanda for the past year.
Born in Akron, Ohio, she graduated from Buchtel High School in Akron and then from Miami University of Ohio with a bachelor's in art education. She married the Rev. James Westhafer, a widower with a young daughter, in 1951 and moved to Dayton, Ohio, where he served as co-pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church. The Westhafers moved to Lockport, N.Y., in 1962 when he became pastor of Lockport First Presbyterian Church. Both were instrumental in the founding of the Kenan Center when William Rand Kenan died and left his Locust Street home and property to the church. It was Mrs. Westhafer's Christmas gift of homemade peanut brittle to assistant pastor Ivan Orloff which inspired the assembly line peanut brittle production that financed the Lockport Interfaith Group.
Mrs. Westhafer was elected to the Lockport Board of Education in 1967, serving eight years. She was chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee that worked to create the Gulf Wilderness Park in Lockport and was active in the Lockport YWCA. She was a member of the New Century Club in Lockport and a member of the League of Women Voters for more than 60 years. She went back to college at the age of 43, got a master of fine arts degree from the University at Buffalo and served as the first director of the art gallery at Niagara County Community College campus in Sanborn. She taught art history at Buffalo State College and Niagara University and later became a docent at the Albright Knox Art Gallery, often guiding tours for classroom groups.
After Rev. Westhafer's retirement in 1984, the couple traveled to Scotland, Turkey, Greece, Thailand, Nepal and India. The couple moved to a home on Lake Ontario in Burt in 1975 and to Grand Island in 1988. Rev. Westhafer died in 1992.
Mrs. Westhafer was a charter member and served on the board of directors of the Western New York Land Conservancy, supporting such projects as the Niagara Escarpment Preserve and the Stella Niagara Preserve. She served many years on the Grand Island Conservation Commission, 10 of those years as chairman, working to identify and preserve valuable green space and forests as home-building accelerated on the island.
Mrs. Westhafer was an avid supporter of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and in her later years particularly enjoyed the Friday morning coffee concerts. She was a member of Riverside Presbyterian Church in Niagara Falls, serving as an elder, lay reader and representative to Presbytery. She was a longtime member of a Grand Island book group and a member of the Grand Island Friends of the Library. She enjoyed tennis, ice skating, swimming, Scrabble, baking, birdwatching, stargazing, watercolor painting and duplicate bridge and had a lifelong passion for gardening. She was a talented seamstress and eagerly tackled projects around the house, whether it was refinishing furniture, caning chairs or dismantling her garden shed.
She is survived by a son, William, of Malvern, Pa.; three daughters, Elizabeth O'Brien of Santa Fe, N.M., Jean Westmoore of Grand Island and Gail Webb of Cincinnati, Ohio; nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Due to the pandemic, funeral services will be private with a memorial remembrance planned at the Kenan Center in late summer or fall. Burial will be in Wooster Cemetery in Wooster, Ohio. Memorial donations may be made to Riverside Presbyterian Church in Niagara Falls, the Kenan Center in Lockport or WNY Land Conservancy. Professional arrangements are by Michael R. Goodlander, owner of OTTO REDANZ FUNERAL HOME, 2215 Military Road, Niagara Falls, NY (716-297-9007). Share condolences and memories at facebook.com/goodlandercares and GOODLANDERCARES.com
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