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David Addison Blake Sr (1887-1970)


David A. Blake, Sr
David A. Blake, Sr.

Rev. David Addison Blake Sr. was born in Cary, North Carolina on August 7, 1887 to John Addison Blake and Mintia Hooker Blake. He graduated from Howard University School of Theology and was minister of the Bethel AME Church in Ann Arbor from 1933-1937. Blake was known to visit other congregations as a guest minister and in turn invited ministers and congregations to his church for special occasions. In February 1933 and 1934, for example, the Ann Arbor News shows him inviting other ministers and congregations to his talks in celebration of Race Relations Day. On February 11, 1937, Blake was appointed presiding elder of the Michigan Conference of the African Methodist Church’s North Detroit District.  

In addition to his ministry work, Blake would later serve on the board of directors of the Ann Arbor Cooperative Society and he would become the first Black American to serve as a Board Supervisor in Ann Arbor, running for the 4th Ward unopposed in 1951 as a Progressive on the Republican ticket. Politics was not his true passion, however, and he resigned in October that same year and moved to Detroit to focus on his ministry.

Blake married his first wife, Grace Hazel (Rogers) Blake, in Detroit in 1916. Grace was active in the United Church Women’s group and served as president of the missionary society of the AME Conference in Michigan. She frequently led the gospel choir at Bethel AME and was a noted contralto who sang solos during church activities. After his wife’s death in 1957, Blake married Ruby Ray in 1958.

In 1942, Blake received an honorary doctor of divinity from Ohio’s Wilberforce University alongside his brother, Eustace L. Blake, of Springfield, Massachusetts. Eustace, also a minister, served for a time as interim pastor at Brown Chapel in Ypsilanti and would occasionally deliver guest sermons to his brother’s congregation at Ann Arbor’s Bethel AME Church.  

David A. Blake Sr died in Harvey, Illinois, at the age of 82. He is father to sons David A. Blake Jr., who followed him in the ministerial profession; Richard Dumas Blake; George Frederick Blake; and daughter Grayce Blake.

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