Like many other African Americans in the early 20th century, Berry Gordy, Sr. and his wife, Bertha Fuller Gordy, came North from
Georgia to find a better life for themselves and their family. As the parents of eight (Fuller, Esther, Anna, Loucye, George, Gwendolyn,
Berry, Jr. and Robert), the elder Gordys instilled strong values in their children—hard work, self-reliance, faith in God and, most of all,
the importance of family ties.
“Pop,” as his children called the elder Gordy, owned and operated several businesses during his lifetime, including a grocery store and
a contracting business. Their mother, Bertha, was also an entrepreneur, who started an insurance agency and supported other family
business ventures. Berry, along with his sisters and brothers, learned entrepreneurial skills and the importance of hard work from Pop,
as they worked under his leadership in the store and plastering company.
A tight-knit family, the Gordy kids also learned to count on each other at all times. Gordy Family solidarity paid off for Berry Gordy, Jr.,
when he requested, reportedly with great trepidation, and received an $800 loan from the family’s Ber-Berry Co-operative. The co-op
was the brainchild of eldest sister Esther and provided seed money for the establishment of Berry’s first record company, Tamla.
Following his father’s example, Berry brought family members into the company, giving them important assignments. His eldest sister
and founder of the Motown Museum, Esther Gordy Edwards, held several senior executive positions at Motown Records. Berry’s
parents and other siblings also played key roles in the company’s management and operation. As staff in the Office of the President,
they served as troubleshooters and trusted aides to their son and brother. The following list indicates a few of the roles that
Berry’s family members were played.
Berry Gordy, Sr. – Office of the President
Bertha Fuller Gordy – Office of the President
Anna Gordy Gaye – Artist Development/Office of the President
Esther Gordy Edwards – International Talent Management Inc.
Fuller Gordy – Procurement
George Gordy – Office of the President
Gwen Gordy Fuqua – Artist Development/Office of the President
Loucye Gordy Wakefield – Finance
Robert Gordy – Jobete Publishing/Office of the President