Niagara Gazette — The Niagara Arts and Cultural Center lost one of its strongest advocates last week.
And the city of Niagara Falls lost one too.
The Rev. Hal Faba, former executive director and past president of the board of directors at the NACC, passed away on Wednesday. He was 84.
The two of us crossed paths for the first time in the early 2000s after former Mayor Irene Elia called on him to lead an effort to save the old Niagara Falls High School building from the wrecking ball.
By all accounts, Faba was a “catalyst” behind the building’s resurrection, bringing all the top qualities of a strong leader — energy, passion and personality.
The result: Today the NACC serves as a home away from home for local children and families and dozens of area artists and non-profit groups.
Geri Mitro, a city resident and early advocate for saving the building, said she believes the community should be thankful to Faba for his help in making the effort a success.
“He was very instrumental in getting the success that we got and he was there picking it up to run with it once we got it,” Mitro said.
For current NACC Executive Director Kathie Kudela, Faba was a constant source of strength, someone she could lean on and count on when times got tough.
“He guided us through all those early beginnings at a really difficult time,” Kudela, recalling Faba’s contributions to the NACC and its predecessor, Save Our Schools of Niagara, Inc. “He was always so strong. He was just the rock in the beginning. He really was.”
The process of saving the historic Pine Avenue structure wasn’t always easy, Kudela said, but it was made easier by having people like Faba around.
“He was always a very charismatic figure and really could draw people to any organization,” Kudela said. “I think he really set the atmosphere for the NACC because it’s a very caring place.”