When I think of Maryann Mahaffey, I think of a short woman who thought Tall.
When it came to the “least of these,” people without means, people without housing, the downtrodden, the forgotten. Maryann thought Tall. Maryann spent several nights on the streets with the city’s homeless people to bring attention to their plight during her 31 years in office. Unlike so many other politicians who talk the talk, Maryann was brave and, privileged enough to walk the walk.
When it came to the “working class.” People who work with their hands as well as their heads, Maryann thought Tall. In 1995 when employees of the Detroit News and Free Press went on strike, Maryann was arrested after she and others blocked the entrance to the Detroit News during a sit-in. She participated at the picket sites, intervening with the Detroit Police to protect the pickets. Maryann walked the walk, she stood Tall.
Maryann Mahaffey was born January 18, 1925 in Burlington Iowa. She moved to Detroit with her husband, Herman (Hy) Dooha, in 1952. Maryann worked as a social worker and advocate in public housing – as well as community centers and welfare rights groups. She was elected to the Detroit City Council in 1973, the same year that Coleman Young was elected Mayor. Maryann was one of Detroit’s longest serving politicians – she retired at the end of her 8th term after she was diagnosed with leukemia. She passed away, July 27, 2006.
I’m not sure why Maryann and her husband chose to move to the city of Detroit or the state of Michigan, but, I for one, am glad they did. In my eyes, Maryann was a true Servant Leader.
Written By: B Knox for Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, Brush Park Manor, Paradise Valley August 2006.