Ann Arbor Leader, Rosemarion Blake, Has Died

Rosemarion Blake interview from the Ann Arbor Cultural & Historical Museum Living Oral History video

Rosemarion Blake interview from the Ann Arbor Cultural & Historical Museum Living Oral History video

Longtime Ann Arborite and community leader, Mrs. Rosemarion Blake, has died. Mrs. Blake was the first African American woman employed in a noncustodial position, at City Hall.
Rosemarion Blake went on to achieve many firsts, as a PTO President, local Democratic Party Chair and more. Read about Mrs. Blake’s life below. See her full obituary at In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: Ann Arbor Community Center or Washtenaw Historical Society.

In Memory of
Rosemarion Alexander Blake
May 19, 1923 – February 23, 2015

Rosemarion Alexander Blake was born in Kansas City, MO, May 19, 1923 to Jewel Alexander Price and Jacob Price. She was brought to Ann Arbor at three to four years of age by her Great Aunt Hattie and Uncle Robert Alexander, who later adopted her in 1929. She became a member of Bethel A.M.E. Church in 1931. She attended Jones School Kindergarten through 9th grade and graduated from Ann Arbor High School in 1941. A major disagreement with her mother about college led her to get her first job as elevator operator in the First National Building, then on to Goodyear Snack Bar on State Street and then to Nielsen Florist, delivering flowers and clerking in the store. In 1945, she became the first African-American woman to work in the City Hall in a non-custodial position, where she clerked in the City Treasurer’s Office.

She married Richard D. Blake (preceded her in death in 1989) in November of 1949 and had three sons, Richard in 1951, Raymond in 1953 and Robert in 1955. Rosemarion worked in Marshall’s Book Shop from 1952 until 1970 including two years as manager. Following that she managed the office of Publication Sales at the Institute for Social Research from 1970 until her retirement in 1987.

Rosemarion has a long history of community involvement. In 1956, she served as PTO President at her son’s school. In the 1960′s, she became involved in the Washtenaw County Democratic Party. She served as secretary to the Washtenaw County Committee and in 1967, served as the Democratic City Chair. In 1968, she also served on the Biracial Committee of Huron High School. She has been secretary of the Ann Arbor Coop. Credit Union, later Huron River Area Credit Union, and a member of the Ann Arbor Cooperative Society. She was a member and chair of the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission, a mayor and city council appointment, and Vice Chair for the Ann Arbor Historical Foundation. Within this work, she was a member of the Lower Town Historic District Committee and the Homestretch Committee of the Downtown Ann Arbor Historical Street Exhibit . She was a member of the Washtenaw County Historical Society for over 23 years. She remained on the Board of the Ann Arbor Historical Foundation until close to her death. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in historic preservation. Rosemarion co-chaired the mortgage burning committee for Bethel A.M.E. Church with her husband Richard in 1989. They successfully led this charge raising over $53,000. She was a member of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority Board of Directors beginning in 1990 for 10 years. She also served as chair of this board.
Rosemarion made a peaceful transition early on February 23rd. She was an exemplary woman, frank, consistent and fiercely loyal to what she believed. She leaves to cherish her memory three sons: Richard (Kaye Sirotti), Raymond (Patricia), Robert (Desirée); six grandchildren: Randall, Kristen, Ashley (Jason Starin), Eric, Daynin and Doren as well as a host of other family and friends.

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  1. Thank you for honoring Mrs. Blake in this article. She and her late husband left many contributions to this community and took a bite out of the social ills in the greater Ann Arbor area for many years. Additionally, she was a great mentor and teacher. She is already missed.

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