Esther Gordy Edwards Dies at Age 91
Beloved 'Mother of Motown' and founder of the Motown Museum to be remembered as Detroit icon
DETROIT, Aug. 25, 2011 -- Esther Gordy Edwards, sister of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr., best known for preserving the original headquarters of Motown Records by creating the Motown Museum on the site of the former "Hitsville USA," and as a former Motown Record Corporation executive, died last night surrounded by family and friends in Detroit on August 24, 2011 at the Age of 91.
She is best known for her roles as the founder of Motown Museum and former Motown Record Corporation executive for nearly three decades. She held a number of leadership positions within Motown, eventually serving as Senior Vice President, Corporate Secretary and Director of Motown International Operations, where she was vital in exposing cultures internationally to the Motown Sound. It was her spirit and fierce protectiveness of young and up-and-coming artists that earned her the unconditional love and respect of the artists of Motown. Whether it was helping Stevie Wonder enroll in the Michigan School for the Blind or managing and guiding the careers of other legendary recording artists like Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross & The Supremes, the Marvelettes, the Temptations and others, her steady hand in shaping the personal and professional fortunes of Motown Records' young stars was a significant part of the company's long-term business and artistic success. Her career in the music industry was followed by an illustrious second career as an entrepreneur, business leader and influential member of several Detroit and nationally recognized institutions.
Her passion for giving others a chance to succeed inspired her to become involved with and create a number of prominent community and nonprofit organizations. Upon her sister's death in 1965, the Loucye Gordy Wakefield Scholarship Fund was established to contribute thousands of dollars annually to underprivileged students. This scholarship fund led Mrs. Edwards to initiate The Gordy Foundation, which today continues to fund scholarships to help give inner city Detroit youth access to education.
A mentor and staunch advocate for women in business, Mrs. Edwards was also a confidant and friend to many nationally well-known leaders. Her political and social influences were profound, and her personal network far-reaching.
Berry Gordy, Jr., founder of Motown said of his sister on behalf of the Gordy family:
Today our family mourns the loss of our beloved Esther Gordy Edwards.
Esther Gordy Edwards was a top Motown executive, businesswoman, civil and political leader, who received numerous awards, commendations and accolades. She was the most educated in our family and was the go-to person for wisdom in business.
Whatever she did, it was with the highest standards, professionalism and an attention to detail that was legendary. She always came out a hero. Esther wasn't concerned with being popular. She was dedicated to making us all better -- the Gordy family and the Motown family.
Esther turned the so-called trash left behind after I sold the company in 1988 into a phenomenal world-class monument where Hitsville started -- The Motown Museum.
She preserved Motown memorabilia before it was memorabilia, collecting our history long before we knew we were making it. She nurtured and held it together through the years, protecting the Motown legacy for generations to come -- which is only one of the reasons people all over the world will remember and celebrate Esther Gordy Edwards.
Despite my sorrow, I will proudly continue to honor and celebrate her. She will always be my big sister and she will forever live in my heart.
Please visit http://identitypr.com/EstherGordyEdwards to download additional information, including comments from Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson, in addition to a historical document about Mrs. Esther Gordy Edwards, a timeline of her life and photos.
SOURCE The Motown Museum
Watch news footage of Esther Gordy Edwards' death below: