The official statement on her death from Mr. Gordy was forwarded to us by Ron Brewington, VP/Motown Alumni Association (MAA):
[My sister Anna was the glamour girl of the family. She was beautiful, sexy, playful, lovely. Men loved her but she lived for her family, especially her younger brothers of which, I was lucky enough to be one.
She backed me up on everything I tried to do and gave me the confidence to be what I wanted to be.
She gave me all the love that a sister could give a brother.
When I first came to California as a teenage boxer, Anna lived there and I knew I would have a place to call home.
I will miss her so dearly. What I’m grateful for most was that she lived to see me reach my goals and shared them all with me in happiness and joy.]
Berry Gordy, Founder, Motown
ANNA GORDY GAYE OBITUARY
The family of ANNA GORDY GAYE has announced her passing. The sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy and former wife of the late Marvin Gaye, Ms. Gaye transitioned early this morning surrounded by her loving son Marvin Gaye III and other family members.
ANNA GORDY GAYE possessed style, beauty and grace and maintained the high-heeled elegance and panache of a world-class, stunningly- attired movie star. Few individuals on earth could make an entrance as eye-catching and attention-grabbing as Anna Gordy Gaye.
She was born Anna Ruby Gordy on January 28, 1922, in Oconee, GA, the third of eight children, to a no-nonsense, school teacher mother and hard-working, laborer father, Bertha Ida Fuller Gordy and Berry Gordy, Sr. Raised in the church, Anna learned to love Jesus Christ at an early age.
During her first year, Anna’s father moved the family up north to Detroit, Michigan. He settled them into a warm, modest, west side home, before purchasing an impressive apartment building on the east side, several years later, on Farnsworth and St. Antoine Streets. Always the hard-working entrepreneur, Mr. Gordy, Sr. instilled a strong work ethic in all of his children. Young Anna and her siblings shared duties in the family grocery store, while the boys also assisted their dad in his plastering and other businesses, before starting their own ventures. Anna credited both her parents, with having a very positive influence on her life. The atmosphere in the Gordy family was one of love and camaraderie, which closely bonded Anna and her siblings – a bond which followed them throughout their lives.
Anna attended Detroit Public Schools, and as a teenager exhibited her family’s strong work ethic, walking a mile each day from home to her first outside job, at a local five and dime store. She later worked for the U.S. government’s TACON plant.
Anna lived life fully and her audacious spirit, transported her to a variety of experiences including, horseback riding via sister, Loucye’s Ladies Riding Club and the Joe Louis Riding Club, in Idlewild, MI; learning to tap dance and model. She enjoyed it all and consistently brought a sense of humor, flair and fun to the mix.
In the mid fifties, Anna with her entrepreneur sister, Gwendolyn, opened and operated a photo concession business at Detroit’s Flame Show Bar. Brothers George and Robert assisted by working in the darkroom, developing the pictures of the club’s clientele. Anna and Gwen enjoyed a particularly strong bond, and when Gwen later formed a record label, she proudly named the company Anna Records.
It was there that Anna caught the eye of a young Marvin Gaye, who later, inspired by their romance, penned hit singles based on Anna, including “Stubborn Kind of Fellow,” “Pride & Joy” and “You’re a Wonderful One.” Anna greatly influenced Gaye’s meteoric rise to success. They married in 1963 and two years later were blessed with the arrival of a baby boy, Marvin Gaye, III. The family moved from Detroit’s then prestigious West Outer Drive address to a home in Hollywood Hills.
Anna’s talent can be heard in the lyrics of the hit songs she wrote with her husband, “ Baby, I’m For Real” and “The Bells,” for Motown group, The Originals, as well as “God Is Love” and “Flyin’ High (In the Friendly Sky)” on his classic, What’s Going On album. A visionary and keen-eyed advocate for “making things work and look good,” Anna actively campaigned for the establishment of Motown’s Artist Development, encouraging sister Gwen to introduce and develop the innovative department with Harvey Fuqua and Maxine Powell.
A warm-hearted loving, champion of children, especially male youth, whom she felt were most at risk, Anna opened her home to them and at various times, helped raise several of her nieces and nephews, when it became necessary. In the tradition of her parents, Anna’s home was always a warm, open and welcoming place to be.
Marvin converted a section of their Hollywood Hills, pool house into a studio/rehearsal space, making it a haven for aspiring artists. Chatting with Anna for just a few moments would infuse those listening with heightened energy and a desire to accomplish more than they previously believed was possible.
Though she and Marvin divorced in 1977, they maintained a mutual admiration and loving friendship until his death in 1984.
When younger brother, Berry founded Motown Records, no one was prouder than Anna. After all it had been Anna and sister Gwen, who had spoken on his behalf and persuaded the family to say “Yes,” to his plea for the seed money, which helped him start Motown. She has stated that, the birth of Motown was her proudest Gordy family moment and throughout her life, Anna thoroughly enjoyed her role as proud big sister of the company’s founder. Although, Anna possessed a ‘protective’ nature, regarding her younger siblings and no threat against any of them went unchallenged by her, it was brother Berry and Robert whom she most fiercely protected … her “babies.” The feeling was mutual — When Anna moved to California for a short time, a teenage Berry followed her, actually hitch hiking most of the way, during his boxing days.
When asked what made her unique among her seven siblings, Anna Gaye replied … “Everyone of my brothers and sisters was unique. I am no different. I was just blessed to be one of them and I praise The Lord for that!”
Anna is survived by her loving son Marvin Gaye, III, daughter-in-law, Wendy, two grandsons, Marvin IV and Dillon Gaye, two brothers, Berry Gordy and Robert L. Gordy, Sr., a host of nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
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