Long­time aide to Mo­town’s Berry Gordy

Los Angeles Times - - OBITUARIES - Hai­ley Bran­son- Potts hai­ley.bran­son@latimes.com

Edna An­der­son- Owens, the long­time as­sis­tant to Mo­town founder Berry Gordy, has died. She was 76.

A Gordy con­fi­dant por­trayed in the Broad­way show “Mo­town: The Mu­si­cal,” An­der­son- Owens died June 13 at a Los An­ge­les hos­pi­tal af­ter com­pli­ca­tions with her breath­ing, said Curtis Owens, her hus­band of 26 years.

Gordy moved Mo­town’s head­quar­ters to Los An­ge­les from Detroit in 1972, want­ing to ex­pand his pop­soul hit fac­tory into Hol­ly­wood movie pro­duc­tion. Shortly af­ter the com­pany re­lo­cated, Gordy hired An­der­son- Owens — who got her start in the com­pany’s pub­lic­ity and com­mu­nity re­la­tions depart­ment — as his per­sonal as­sis­tant. It was a po­si­tion she held for more than four decades.

Her hus­band de­scribed her as a de­lib­er­a­tive woman, “very me­thod­i­cal, very in­ves­tiga­tive and very de­tailed,” who chal­lenged Gordy on so­cial is­sues, es­pe­cially ad­vanc­ing the sta­tus of black peo­ple.

“She kept him fo­cused on where we came from,” Owens said.

“She wanted to make sure that black folks had a right to par­tic­i­pate in the whole ma­trix of the Amer­i­can ex­pe­ri­ence and wanted to make sure our ex­pe­ri­ences were be­ing ex­posed in the proper fash­ion.”

She was born Edna Ver­nelle An­der­son on Aug. 5, 1938, in Blue­field, W. Va., and grad­u­ated with a busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion de­gree from Wil­ber­force Univer­sity ( now Cen­tral State Univer­sity), a his­tor­i­cally black col­lege in Xe­nia, Ohio.

Af­ter join­ing Mo­town, An­der­son- Owens ac­com­pa­nied Gordy on busi­ness trips around the world, in­ter­acted with en­ter­tain­ers and top mu­sic ex­ec­u­tives and be­came the co- chief ex­ec­u­tive of TGC Man­age­ment, a Gordy- owned in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty com­pany. She was also the di­rec­tor and cor­po­rate sec­re­tary of the Berry Gordy Fam­ily Foun­da­tion, and served nu­mer­ous terms on the board of the Cal­i­for­nia Science Cen­ter in Los An­ge­les.

She and Gordy were so close that one of the off­spring of his race­horse Ar­gu­ment was named Edna’s Ar­gu­ment.

She met her hus­band in col­lege and they were mar­ried in 1989. She is also sur­vived by her step­son, Derek Owens; her 101- year- old mother, Amanda An­der­son; and sis­ter Jan­ice An­der­son.

LEAD­ER­SHIP POSTS Edna An­der­son- Owens was di­rec­tor of the Berry Gordy Fam­ily Foun­da­tion and on Cal­i­for­nia Science Cen­ter’s board.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.