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Sylvia Blake Bynum (1884-1973)

Sylvia Blake Bynum
Sylvia Blake Bynum

Sylvia Blake Bynum was born on November 7, 1884 in Cary, North Carolina to John Addison Blake and Mintia Hooker Blake. She married Oliver Bynum in January of 1918 in Portsmouth, Virginia. He passed away in 1929.

Sylvia lived in Ann Arbor for 37 years, many of them spent in an apartment on E. Summit Street. She was an active member of the Bethel AME Church beginning in 1936, the same year she moved to Ann Arbor from Portsmouth, Virginia. Sylvia was a poet, having written over 200 poems since coming to Ann Arbor. Her previous collection was lost when she moved. Of these, 92 poems written between 1936 and 1952 were published in a volume titled Verses From the Heart. The book was published by her brother Reverend Eustace L. Blake from Newark, New Jersey in 1961.

Sylvia and Oliver had no children, but Sylvia raised her sister Blanche (Blake) Wilson’s daughters after her death in 1918. Her nieces were Blanche (Wilson) Bridge, and (Mary) Virginia Wilson Ellis. Blanche earned a Master’s in Public Health at the University of Michigan and worked as a nurse at St. Joseph’s Mercy hospital. She collaborated with the Dunbar Center to educate teens in a demonstration in 1947. Virginia W. Ellis was active in numerous organizations and boards within the community. She was a teacher, chairman of Washtenaw County March of Dimes, a chairman for the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, and was actively involved in the Dunbar Center throughout her life. 

Sylvia passed away July 14, 1973 at the Huron View Lodge and was interred at United Memorial Gardens.

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