Focus: HOPE co-founder Eleanor Josaitis dies at 79

August 9, 2011 - 8:00 AM
Obit Josaitis

FILE - In a Nov. 25, 2003 file photo Detroit Lions defensive lineman Robert Porcher, left, is introduced by Eleanor Josaitis during his sixth annual turkey distribution to needy families in Detroit. Josaitis, a community leader who co-founded the social services organization Focus: HOPE died Tuesday Aug. 9, 2011.(AP Photo/Jerry S. Mendoza)

DETROIT (AP) — Eleanor Josaitis, a community leader who co-founded the social services organization Focus: HOPE in the wake of Detroit's 1967 riots, has died. She was 79.

Her son Mark Josaitis tells The Associated Press that she died Tuesday morning at Angela Hospice in Livonia after being diagnosed last year with cancer.

Mark Josaitis says his mother "really believed in human dignity and helping people develop skills to be proud of."

Eleanor Josaitis and the Rev. William Cunningham founded Focus: HOPE in 1968 following the race riots that widened a rift between Detroit's black and white residents. The group offers job training, as well as food programs for the poor and elderly. Cunningham died in 1997.

Survivors include Josaitis' husband of 55 years, Donald. The couple had five children and several grandchildren.