May 2002

Joan Bozer -
Thinking Outside the Box

by Joseph RADDER

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Joan Bozer is always thinking in a creative way and encouraging those around her who are resistant to change to do the same. Her urging isn’t always gentle, but it’s very persuasive, and usually effective.

One of Joan’s favorite causes is cleaning up the environment. With Walter Simpson of SUNY, she founded and co-chairs the Western New York Sustainable Energy Association. Its goal is to promote the development of renewable energy through the use of solar and wind power. And she practices what she preaches, She and her husband, Dr. John Bozer, drive hybrid cars, use a passive solar system to help heat their home, and are planning to add solar panels to their home this year to generate electricity

Active in the League of Women Voters, Bozer is particularly interested in the issue of urban sprawl. “Sprawl creates more automobile traffic and therefore more pollution,” she says, “not to mention the added expense for highways and the individuals who commute longer distances.”

A third major activity is her chairmanship of the government relations committee of the Citizens Regional Transit Corporation, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the area’s automobile traffic through expansion of Metro Rail into the suburbs and to the airport.

“The goals of all three of these groups go together” she said. “Renewable energy, stopping sprawl, and reducing automobile traffic will all contribute to cleaner air.” Global warming is also an issue that interests Joan Bozer and she is convinced that air pollution is a major cause of global warming.

A native of Westchester County, Joan grew up in Pelham Manor, New York. Her parents, were Tom and Ruth Kendig. Her father owned a manufacturing business and her mother was a librarian. “My father’s views of business were somewhat unique for those days. He believed that the best growth opportunity for American manufacturers was expansion into foreign markets. When I came to Buffalo, I carried that idea with me and through his mentoring was instrumental in founding the International Trade Council.” That organization now has an annual award to companies successful in overseas marketing and the award is named for Joan Bozer’s father, Thomas Hart Kendig.

Her best childhood memories relate to the pleasures of living near New York City. “I used to love to go into New York on the train and experience all of the excitement of the city including the ships coming in from all over the world. I still love New York,” she says.

Joan attended high school in Pelham, New York then went to Dean Junior College in Massachusetts. After earning her degree there she came to Buffalo where she would later earn a BA degree in history and government at SUNY’s Empire State College. Joan Kendig married Dr. John Bozer in 1951. “We just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. We were married in my home town of Pelham when John was in his final year of medical school.” Dr. Bozer, by the way, is a prominent Buffalo cardiologist. The Bozers have four children and seven grandchildren.

Before getting actively involved in politics, Joan Bozer was president of the League of Women Voters, president of the Junior League of Buffalo, and Chair of what was then known as the National Conference of Christians and Jews. In these positions she became interested in elective office and ran for a seat on the Buffalo City Council in 1975, but was defeated by the incumbent. Soon thereafter, however, County Legislator Susan Lubick left for Washington and Joan Bozer ran successfully to fill that position, representing what is now the 4th District. While a Legislator, Joan led drives which resulted in several milestone pieces of legislation. Most important of these, perhaps, was her fight to save the Old Post Office and convert it to the downtown campus of Erie Community College. Always interested in preservation, she has an exciting idea for ECC. “The county should acquire the historic Ellicott Square building for classrooms, tear down the buildings between Ellicott Square and the present college and create a campus park in between the two for the enjoyment of the students and general public as well. Linking these two downtown landmarks is a dream of mine,” she said. Those who know Joan Bozer also know she has a way of making dreams come true.

Her most recent dreams to bear fruit were the three solar energy exhibits sponsored by the Women’s Pavilion for the Pan American Exposition centennial, of which she was a founder.

Joan Bozer calls herself a “gadfly”. Webster says that’s a person who intentionally stimulates and provokes others. Somewhat true, but those who know Joan Bozer well know that she does this in a very charming way and that’s probably why she gets results.

She can’t say enough about “the importance of activities as they relate to the environment. I feel all of these things, renewable energy, fighting sprawl, and promoting the expansion of our light rail rapid transit system to reduce the number of automobiles on the streets are all inter-related. “Buffalo has so much,” she says “I can’t imagine a more livable city than Buffalo. but it has to be livable for everybody. We must provide access to jobs and recreation to those who do not own cars. I’m frustrated that we don’t yet have public transportation to any of our county parks.”

“Live every day to the fullest and bloom where you’re planted.” Joan Bozer truly lives this philosophy. She’s one of the most active people we know, and that’s what keeps her forever young.

Joseph Radder is a freelance writer.


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