Our Brother Has Fallen
Marlowe Stoudamire died of complications from the Coronavirus on Tuesday, March 24.
But it won’t…stop. This tragedy keeps whirring in my heart and mind—trying to reconcile with the fact that Marlowe, this wonderful husband, dad, son, community leader, entrepreneur and friend, is not here. Not here…to be the social capital expert that purposed to drive deep connection and deep change in our communities.
Not here…to orchestrate the cultural collisions, the mash-ups of ideas and backgrounds and perspectives that would make something brand new from the dialectic. Something positive. Something unexpectedly fruitful.
I first met Marlowe at a Crain’s Detroit CEO leadership gathering in 2013. He was a presenter and conference mentor. At that time, he was working as the Chief of Staff for the Skillman Foundation after having been at Henry Ford Health Systems. At Henry Ford he was a community and diversity manager and later project director of international business strategy, launching projects in China, India and Saudi Arabia. We swapped school affiliations. He was a Cass Tech High School alum, completed his B.A. in Business at Wayne State and received his Masters in International Administration from Central Michigan University.
Marlowe and I struck up a friendship and started our “meetups” at Great Lakes Coffee in Midtown Detroit. In our conversations, I was struck by his love for his wife, Valencia, and his two children. With all that he had going on, they were still his heart’s focus.
He emphasized the central value of relationships. For him, it started here with these. His family was what equipped him to go out into the D…into the world…to make change. Change that pulled together business, government, philanthropy and the community. It was always energizing to listen to him describe the possibilities of the human and organizational connections he envisioned for himself, his family and Detroit.
One project we did together in the business sector that made use of his skills as a social capital expert and communicator was with the automotive division for Johnson Controls. It was a national team-building event and Marlowe was the Co-Emcee—a combination of Engagement Coach and Inquiry Leader. As Engagement Coach, he pumped up all those attending with his incredible enthusiasm and helped them overcome self-consciousness and dive into the collaborative sessions. In his role as Inquiry Leader, he gathered and processed various questions that were coming up at the event so that everyone felt heard and left motivated to build on their refreshed vision of themselves as a team.
Marlowe continued to advance his work in the community by founding Butterfly Effect Detroit and 2050 Partners, engagement and marketing firms. He also was the project leader for the groundbreaking Detroit Historical Society’s Detroit 67: Looking Back to MOVE FORWARD project.
So, for me, it was a stunning blow to hear that he was gone. Unexpectedly. By a virus that many of us didn’t know existed a few short months ago. As with anyone we lose, there’s no real making sense of it. But there is a process—we reflect, we grieve, and we wait. To see what memories come to mind and how our broken hearts can heal. And at some point, to share with others these memories and through this to discover how we can move forward. With hope.
In a battle, if the carrier of the colors falls, another comes to raise the standard again. Marlowe carried high the banner of relationship, of community, of change, but for too short a time. So now, in honor of him and his contribution, let us take up these colors. And see the social capital—the love—he invested in our community and in our lives, see it multiply. And in so doing, remember…
Our brother has fallen. But he will rise.
Butterfly Effect Detroit https://www.marlowestoudamire.com/butterfly-effect-detroit-1
2050 Partners https://www.2050partnersinc.com/cofounders
Detroit 67: Looking Back to MOVE FORWARD project https://detroithistorical.org/about-us/detroit-67-project
Fox 2 honoring of Marlowe. https://www.fox2detroit.com/news/detroit-community-leader-marlowe-stoudamire-dies-from-coronavirus