Washtenaw The end of an era as Blondeen Munson retires after 34 years

By Frank Weir

Legal News

It was the end of last month when long-time staffer at Legal Services of South Central Michigan, Blondeen Munson, retired.

A reception was held for Munson at the Kerrytown Opera House and it was packed with well-wishers.

Munson was hired in August of 1977 by Kurt Berggren, then executive director of the agency.

The farewell event was emceed by Delphia Simpson, LSSCM's board chair, who described Munson as "a treasure" to the program and to the community.

Ann Routt (deputy director of LSSCM) read remarks from well-wishers, including from Berggren, who remains a friend today.

Roger Chard, the second executive director that Munson worked with, also made remarks about her big heart and tremendous energy as an advocate.

"As a colleague for seven years and as a former colleague for 27 more years, I witnessed her bring raw passion to the work place which was obvious in its aim," Chard said.

"She was here to help people who were poor, disadvantaged financially, racially, ethnically, physically, sexually, educationally.

"She wasn't sure how she was going to do that (how many of us are on day one), but she had enough self confidence to believe that she would learn how.

"She had tenacity, and she had staying power. As the director of Legal Services, I had several similar employees. Such staffs keep a director on his toes, but also provide an office with energy, intensity, and positive spirit.

"Blondeen's fire was a key component of our office; it continued to burn, to grow, and mature.

"She has a powerful sense of what constitutes fairness, and what one earns with her is based on performance not inherited station in life. Vital to this personality are humility, an easy laugh, and a good sense of humor."

Bob Gillett, LSSCM's executive director for the past 27 years, described Munson as a "natural advocate with a great concern for others and a sense of history, especially the history of Ann Arbor's black community."

Another local attorney, Charles Borgsdorf, has served on LSSCM's board for many years and attended the gathering.

"She has been an extraordinary part of the program as long as she has been a part of it," Borgsdorf said of Munson. "Her roots in Ann Arbor, her knowledge of the community and her commitment to civil and equal rights has always been amazing.

"I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with her all these years."

Munson thanked the group, telling case anecdotes and saying how lucky she felt to work with so many smart and committed people.

Published: Tue, Dec 7, 2010