Maxine Powell, a personal development coach who taught Motown stars lessons in media relations and proper manners, has passed away. According to a Motown Museum spokesperson, Powell passed away "peacefully surrounded by Motown family and close friends" at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan on Monday morning, October 13. She was 85.
Powell's family did not release her cause of death. A close friend Beverly Banto, however, said that Powell's health had been declining since May. She slipped into coma a day before her passing.
Motown founder Berry Gordy released a statement following Powell's death, saying that Powell was tough but "poised, professional, and very thankful" when she was with the artists. "I love you all, but don't confuse me with your mother - she's stuck with you, I'm not! Ladies, remember your gloves, walk with class like you were taught - and always remember, do not protrude the buttocks," Gordy recalled Powell's words to her students in the statement.
Motown hired Powell in 1964 to train singers such as Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye. An original member of The Supremes, Mary Wilson, quoted Powell as saying, "One day, you may be performing before kings and queens," and taught them how to behave in front of public and media. "And we actually did. But it was because they taught us how to sit, you know, to talk, and all of these kinds of things," Wilson told CNN in 2002.
A memorial service is scheduled for Friday at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit at 10 A.M. The funeral will be held at 11 A.M.