Esther Gordy Edwards Dies at 91

The late music exec made lasting contributions to Motown Records.

Posted: 08/26/2011 12:22 PM EDT
Esther Gordy Edwards

Esther Gordy Edwards, founder of the Motown Museum, and sister to Motown founder Berry Gordy, has died at age 91. According to her family, Edwards succumbed to natural causes.

In addition to founding the Museum to preserve the legacy of her family's beloved record label, Edwards was active in the civil rights movement and served as Motown's Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in the 1960s.

In a statement, Berry Gordy said his sister, a Howard University graduate, was "the most educated in our family and was the go-to person for wisdom in business."

Edwards' work establishing the Motown Museum led to it becoming one of Detroit's most popular tourist attractions.

"She preserved Motown memorabilia before it was memorabilia, collecting our history long before we knew we were making it," Berry Gordy said.

Read his full statement below.

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.

 

Earlier this week, Motown songwriter Nick Ashford, of Ashford & Simpson, also passed away.

 

(Photo: MCT/Landov)

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