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March 11, 1925 – Jan. 26, 2013

Mamie Beale Johnson, a mathematician with Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory and an administrator at the University at Buffalo’s Educational Opportunity Center, died Saturday. She was 87.

Born in Lackawanna, she grew up in Buffalo, attending School 32. She was a graduate of Hutchinson-Central High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Virginia Union University in 1947, a rare accomplishment for an African-American woman at that time. She was a member of the Alpha Kappa Mu scientific honor society.

Returning to Buffalo, she became the first African-American woman to join Cornell Lab, where she worked for 22 years and was part of the team that helped develop the automotive seat belt. Ebony magazine cited her as an African-American “Pioneer in Science” in 1950.

In 1970, she began a 20-year career with EOC as registrar, then was a research assistant and community relations and recruitment coordinator. At EOC, she received the Certificate of Appreciation for Service and the Oxner/Lytle Award for Outstanding Service.

Mrs. Johnson was active in numerous volunteer efforts. She was a board member of the United Negro College Fund, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Women’s Committee, the Ujima Theater Company, Everywoman Opportunity Center, the Niagara Frontier Vocational Rehabilitation Center, the High Blood Pressure Risk Reduction Program, the Parent Aide Community Effort, the WGRZ-TV Minority Advisory Council, Project SAFE, the Mallard Center for Migrant Workers, the Citizens Community Development Corp. and the Victoria School of Court Reporting.

She was active in the Buffalo Chapter of The Links Inc. and a charter member of the Buffalo Chapter of the Jack and Jill Clubs of America, the Harriet Tubman 300s and Women for Human Rights and Dignity. She also was a member of Xi Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

She was involved with the Buffalo Black Media Coalition, the United Negro College Fund Leadership Committee, the Miss Black USA Advisory Council, Women for Downtown and the Community Action Organization’s Education Task Force.

In earlier years, she was active in the Camp Fire Girls of Buffalo & Erie County, the Tri-Town Business and Professional Women’s Club, the fundraising committee for the Niagara Frontier Association for Sickle Cell Disease and the United Way Allocations Panel.

Mrs. Johnson earned numerous honors for her charity and fundraising work, including the Recognition of Volunteerism from the CAO Education Task Force, the United Negro College Fund’s Frederick D. Patterson Distinguished Leadership Award, its Meritorious Service Award and its Recognition for Volunteerism. In 2002, she was named an Uncrowned Queen by the African-American Women Community Builders of Western New York.

A longtime member of Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church, she was pianist and took part in the Senior Choir and the Emma J. Horner Chorale. She also edited the church newsletter. She served as organist for Lloyd’s Memorial United Church of Christ for 20 years. She also was an avid bridge player.

Her husband of 39 years, former Masten Council Member Horace “Billy” Johnson, died in 1987.

Surviving are three daughters, June Johnson Stanford, Patricia Johnson Isaac and Holly Johnson Fisher.

A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Saturday in Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church, 641 Masten Ave.