Aruthia Lion Obituary
 
In Memory of

Aruthia E. Lion

August 15, 1923 - May 13, 2011
Obituary
Biography

Aruthia Elizabeth Lion passed away on May 13, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada, following several years of declining health. Private family services were held on May 27, 2011 at the Resurrection Chapel, Roseland Park Cemetery, in Berkley, Michigan. Aruthia was born on August 15, 1923 in Washington, D.C. to Bertha Allena and William Hanson Phillips, whose lives served as inspiration for Aruthia’s future endeavors. Bertha, a graduate of the Detroit Conservatory of Music, with additional studies at a German conservatory, founded the first African American music school in the state of Michigan, as well as Bertha Hansbury’s Little Folks School. William was the founder of the Household Art Guild, the first state-licensed employment agency for blacks in Detroit, and was the publisher of Our People, a local community newspaper. Children in the Phillips household included Aruthia and her sister Hanola, as well as brothers William, Jr. and Robert. Aruthia graduated from Northern High School at age 16. She attended Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and Howard University in Washington, D.C. While on assignment for the Howard University student newspaper, Aruthia met, interviewed, and became friends with the famous band leaders Duke Ellington, and Count Basie. In 1944, Aruthia began taking voice lessons from an instructor at Carnegie Hall in New York City. She then embarked on the first of many lifetime endeavors as a singer, performing in many popular clubs in New...
Aruthia Elizabeth Lion passed away on May 13, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada, following several years of declining health. Private family services were held on May 27, 2011 at the Resurrection Chapel, Roseland Park Cemetery, in Berkley, Michigan.

Aruthia was born on August 15, 1923 in Washington, D.C. to Bertha Allena and William Hanson Phillips, whose lives served as inspiration for Aruthia’s future endeavors. Bertha, a graduate of the Detroit Conservatory of Music, with additional studies at a German conservatory, founded the first African American music school in the state of Michigan, as well as Bertha Hansbury’s Little Folks School. William was the founder of the Household Art Guild, the first state-licensed employment agency for blacks in Detroit, and was the publisher of Our People, a local community newspaper. Children in the Phillips household included Aruthia and her sister Hanola, as well as brothers William, Jr. and Robert.

Aruthia graduated from Northern High School at age 16. She attended Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and Howard University in Washington, D.C. While on assignment for the Howard University student newspaper, Aruthia met, interviewed, and became friends with the famous band leaders Duke Ellington, and Count Basie. In 1944, Aruthia began taking voice lessons from an instructor at Carnegie Hall in New York City. She then embarked on the first of many lifetime endeavors as a singer, performing in many popular clubs in New York, New England, and Canada. Aruthia's former husbands were the late Andrew Mitchell, the father of Frances, and the late Kenneth Rickman, the father of Arlette. In the early 1950’s Aruthia began working as a disk jockey at the then famous New York jazz station WOV, where her natural intelligence, knowledge of music, and charm were evident as she interviewed well known entertainers of the time, such as singers Harry Belafonte and Della Reese, journalist and television personality Dorothy Kilgallen, and actor Sidney Poitier.

While working at radio station WOV, Aruthia met her future husband, Alfred Lion, an immigrant from Germany, who was the founder of the critically acclaimed Blue Note Record Company. During her years with Blue Note, Aruthia served as the publicist. She coordinated the Blue Note presentation at the New York World’s Fair; organized Blue Note’s 25th anniversary celebration at the New York Playboy Club, and arranged the first coast-to-coast talk show interview featuring host Alan Grant and the late Blue Note artist, Lee Morgan. When the company was ultimately sold, Aruthia and Alfred retired for a time to Cuernavaca, Mexico.

Aside from these early pursuits, Aruthia held a life-long interest in the study and practice of psychology, including years of self-study, as well as formal graduate training. During her retirement years, Aruthia teamed up with Elaine Usell, Director of the Joslyn Senior Center in Rancho Bernardo, CA, Dr. John Lloyd, and psychologist Pamela Johnson, to create programs and group seminars encouraging seniors to live life to the fullest. In addition, throughout her life, she contributed articles to local community newspapers in Queens, NY, Cuernavaca, Mexico, and Rancho Bernardo, CA.

Aruthia rounded out a lifetime of achievement by joining with a group of other retired professionals to produce public access TV shows geared toward seniors, as well as co-hosting, for a time, a San Diego radio station jazz program. Aruthia Lion is survived by her daughters Frances Jones-Jackson and Arlette Ford, son-in-law Joudon Ford, granddaughters Alena Junette and Yvette Elizabeth Williams, brother and sister-in-law Robert and Consuelo Phillips, nephews Robert Johnson and Hilanius Phillips, nieces Karen Walker and Ruth Johnson, as well as extended family and friends.

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