Jan. 3, 1929 – May 1, 2013
The Rev. Hal Faba, a Baptist minister and a driving force behind the creation of the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center in Niagara Falls, died Wednesday in Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. He was 84.
Mr. Faba led efforts in 2000 and 2001 to preserve the former Niagara Falls High School building and transform the deteriorating structure into a community space for area artists.
Mr. Faba was a member of the Niagara Falls Planning Board when, at the behest of former Mayor Irene J. Elia, he left that post to become volunteer president of a nonprofit group known as Save Our Sites, which fought a developer’s proposed demolition of the vacant Pine Avenue building.
“He said, ‘We don’t need another strip mall,’ ” recalled M. Elaine Meranto, his wife of 33 years.
Mr. Faba and others ultimately persuaded the Niagara Falls School Board to turn the property over to the group for $1.
“Most of them knew and trusted Hal,” said Meranto.
In 2001, he volunteered to be the first executive director of the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center, an organization that now hosts more than 80 artists, musicians and writers inside the renovated 160,000-square-foot former school building.
“This is a building that is one of the reminders of the greatness of the city,” Mr. Faba told The Buffalo News in a 2006 interview.
The Hornell native was a 1960 graduate of Eastern Seminary College in Philadelphia. He received a master’s degree from the University at Buffalo and a doctorate in education.
He served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Wilson and Sanborn Baptist Church. He also was chaplain of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and interim pastor of Brighton Community Church in the Town of Tonawanda, and he was a supply preacher in various churches in the Niagara Falls area. He was active in the Niagara Area Baptist Ministers Association and involved in the “Know Your Neighbors” faith series.
Mr. Faba also was an addictions counselor. He developed Milestones Outpatient Clinic, where he was program director. He served on the Community Mental Health Board and was active with migrant ministry.
He returned to the Planning Board after completing his volunteer work with the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center.
A singer, theater actor and director, Mr. Faba most recently directed “Over the Tavern” for the Western Door Theater. He also had acted and directed for the Theatre in the Mist and Niagara Falls Little Theater. He sang with the Lewiston Choraleers and other groups, and was a volunteer usher along with his wife at Artpark and at the Kavinoky Theatre in Buffalo.
His first wife, Jean Archer Faba, died in 1977. The couple had been house parents for children’s homes in Oneonta.
Survivors, besides his wife, include a daughter, Joy Meness; a foster son, William Laskey; and two brothers, Kenneth and Robert.
Services will be at noon Saturday in United Baptist Christian Church, 4800 Creek Road, Lewiston.