|Maryann Mahaffey (center) is pictured with Wayne County Commissioner Alisha Bell (left) and Sandra Reese, CEO, Planned Parenthood.|
"She was a determined woman, dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Detroit citizens," said Kilpatrick, who worked with the councilwoman four years during his first term as mayor. "I am glad we had the opportunity to celebrate Maryann's legacy while she was still with us. She will be missed, but her spirit will live on in the hearts of Detroiters forever."
Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm said Mahaffey was an extraordinary force not only in Detroit, but in Michigan.
"She fought for justice for everyday citizens and for the disenfranchised. She fought for racial equality, she was a warrior for health care for the uninsured, and she was an advocate for women and for children," Granholm said.
"Maryann was a voice for those who could not be heard, and she gave hope when none was on the horizon. She was one of the most admired and beloved public servants anywhere, and for me,s he was a mentor, a role model and a friend. My heart and prayers go out to her great family."
Mahaffey, a political pillar in Detroit, died July 27, 5:30 a.m., at Henry Ford Hospital. She had battled leukemia, but died of cardiac arrest and kidney failure.
Last year, Mahaffey decided not to seek another term and retired from the council due to her health.
Mahaffey joined the Detroit City Council in 1974, the same year that Coleman A. Young made history as the first Black mayor of the city of Detroit. Her tenure as a city councilwoman included 13 years as president and nine years as president protem.
Born in Iowa in 1925, Maryann Mahaffey moved to Detroit after receiving a bachelor of arts degree from Cornell College and a masters in social work from the University of Southern California.
Before she was elected to council, Mahaffey taught at Wayne State University from 1965 to 1990 in the Department of Social Work and also became active in the community, working organizations such as the United Cerebral Palsy Association, the Detroit Foster Homes Project, the Brightmoor Community Center and Metropolitan Detroit Girls Scouts.
"She had an uncanny ability to hear people's wants and needs, no matter how they were expressed and she was always compelled to respond," said Susan Cooha, Mahaffey's daughter.
"What she would want now is for the people of Detroit to stand together for those who need them, for the homeless, for the children and for the hungry."
Once a council member, Mahaffey continued her community involvement. She was vice president of the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority, a former member of the Juvenile Crime Enforcment Coalition, chair of the City Council Task Force on Homeless Shelters and a former co-chair of the Detroit Women in AIDS Project.
"Maryann Mahaffey was a champion for all Detroiters," said Wayne County Commission Chairwoman Jewel Ware. "She stood tall and fought hard for civil rights and equal rights. Maryanne Mahaffey was the conscience of the Detroit City Council and the soul of the city."
Just last week, Mahaffey was in Ferndale participating in a protest against the war in Iraq.
She was vocal on an array of issues, including homelessness, crime and violence reduction and business opportunities. She organized the Detroit Police Department's Rape Crisis Center and introduced numerous ordinances, among them the Emergency Shelter Licensing Ordinance, the Family Child Care Zoning Laws, home rental registration, Repair to Own Home Ordinance and the Sexual Harassment Ordinance.
"Maryann Mahaffey represents and symbolizes the epitome of what a public servant ought to be," said Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit Branch NAACP and pastor of Fellowship Chapel. "She was unwavering in her commitment. If ever anyone wants to pursue a vocation or career in public service, Maryann Mahaffey's life should serve as a model."
Anthony worked with on her on several issues, the most recent issues being preventing the affirmative action ban and having school board members for the Detroit Public School System re-appointed.
"We worked on voter mobilization, we worked together on trying to get an end to predatory lending, where she led Detroit City Council to bring a law against predatory lending," Anthony said. "We worked together on trying to maintain affirmative action. She was very much opposed to the California initiative. We worked together in trying to bring back an elected school board through our opposition of Proposal E. She was very supportive of my leadership at the NAACP and she could always be depended on."
Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick agreed with Anthony.
"Maryann Mahaffey was a dedicated public servant and committed to the city of Detroit," said Kilpatrick. "Maryann, along with Erma Henderson, was one of the first women in leadership from the city of Detroit who helped teach me political leadership skills. She served the citizens of Detroit well with a fierce determination and courageous spirit."
Mahaffey was honored last year during a special tribute held at Cobo Hall, that Detroit City Council member JoAnn Watson helped to organize. She was also recognized at the 2006 inauguration for the mayor and Detroit City Council members.
"Maryann Mahaffey was a superior contributor to the citizens of Detroit, this nation and the world, and she was always prioritized human rights principles," said Watson.
"Our community has lost a dedicated and compassionate leader," said Richard E. Blouse, Jr., president and CEO, Detroit Regional Chamber. "Maryann Mahaffey was a true champion for Detroiters."
Mahaffey is survived by her husband of 55 years, Hy Dooha; daughter, Susan Dooha; brother, Kent Mahaffey; and granddaughter, Lily. In lieu of floral tributes or other memorial contributions, the family requests that donations are forwarded to Central United Methodist Church, 23 E. Adams Street, Attention: Pastor Ed Rowe, for the Mahaffey Fund.
A scholarship fund is also set up in Mahaffey's name at Wayne State University.
The family announced that there would be a private funeral service. At Chronicle press time, details on a public memorial had not been released.
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