Eleanor Josaitis, Detroit Activist, Dies


DETROIT, Aug. 9 (UPI) — Eleanor Josaitis, a suburban housewife who became a “stalwart of community activism in Detroit,” has died at 79.

Josaitis suffered from liver cancer, The Detroit News reported. She died early Tuesday in Angela Hospice in Livonia.

After the 1967 riots rocked the city, Josaitis moved with her husband and five children from suburban Taylor into Detroit. In March 1968, she and the late Rev. William T. Cunningham, a professor at Sacred Heart Seminary, founded Focus: HOPE.

Focus: HOPE began modestly as an all-volunteer organization with a food distribution program, the Detroit Free Press said. It sent volunteers into stores to determine if owners were selling residents of poor neighborhoods substandard items at high prices.

The organization now has a staff of 280, 15,000 volunteers, a 40-acre campus, an operating budget of $23 million and programs that range from pre-school to job training.

“Eleanor was a stalwart of community activism,” Mayor Dave Bing said. “She has touched the lives of countless Detroiters and built a legacy of hope and help that will last for generations. She will be sorely missed as a friend and community leader.”

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