Critic Molly Abraham, a spirited and beloved character who was passionate about food and showed it in her decades of reviews for the Detroit News and Free Press, died Thursday at age 92.
Son Jimmy Doom tells the Detroit Free Press that she died of natural causes in hospice care at Ascension Hospital in Warren.
"She loved wine, loved jazz and loved the Detroit Tigers," Doom tells the Freep. "She was also very pro-union ... die-hard pro-union."
He said she cared about not only the public, but restaurant owners, too, and would sometimes pass on a review if a restaurant wasn't ready for prime time.
Colleagues and friends adored her.
"She always made me feel so special, especially on our regular dining excursions," writer Chuck Bennett posts on Facebook. "She was an undercover rockstar! She was a great friend, and an amazing mentor from my very early years at the Detroit News. Damn, we're going to miss you, Molly."
A graduate of the University of Detroit, Abraham worked at the now-defunct Detroit Times in the 1950s and came to the Detroit News in the 1960s. In the 1980s, she took a walk down Lafayette Blvd. to work for the competition, the Detroit Free Press.
In July 1995, Abraham, a big union supporter and member of the Newspaper Guild, went out on strike with more than 2,000 workers. During the strike, she worked as a host at an Italian restaurant in Ferndale. After the unions worked out a deal to return, she went back to the Freep.
"Noting that neither paper had the courage or truthfulness to mention that Molly went on strike and did restaurant reviews for the strike paper before returning to write obits and whatnot for the Free Press," Mike McBride, a former striking Detroit News worker, posted on Facebook. "What's so horrible about mentioning that significant event in her career and history? It helps illustrate her character and who she was. Isn't that the point of an obit as someone who wrote hundreds of obits."
Abraham eventually quit the Freep sometime around the late 1990s.
After that, Susan Whitall, who was a Detroit News music and feature writer, tells Deadline Detroit that she suggested to publisher Mark Silverman that the News start using her as a freelance restaurant critic.
"I know he was very impressed with her wiriting, and those of us who knew her were delighted to have her back," Whitall said. Abraham also wrote freelance reviews for Hour magazine.
She retired from the News in 2018.
"I loved working with Molly," said Whitall. "Molly was great. She was a veteran reporter, she was so youthful in spirit and so vivacious, and she had this mischievous spark. So she just delighted even the youngest of us. She had no problem going out to lunch with us, no matter how young we were. Molly was one of us. She had that youthful philosophy, always.
"That's probably what helped her be a top notch reviewer well into her 80s. She could have gone on had her health not failed her."
Others chimed in on Facebook:
►Rosemary Bannon: So sorry to hear this! She was a leader in her days!
►Roberta Walls: She was so much fun.
►Greg Bowens: Oh man. She was a light in the world.
►Shawn Ellis: My heartfelt condolences to Molly’s family and long list of friends. What a great talent, and truly genuine.
►Margaret Mercier-Martelle: Scott and I are sad to hear this news. Molly was a wonderful person and a great union member. And she knew food.
►Ed Wendover: So sad to hear about Molly Abraham! She was true professional who didn't let the "Great Detroit Newspaper War" bastards slow her down. Very few -- if any -- journalists besides her worked at: The D. Times, The D. News, the D. Free Press and The D. Sunday Journal. Even restaurants she lightly rebuked accepted her honest, consumer-driven approach to restaurant reviews.
A funny Molly story: When the newspaper strike ended they had to take her back; put her writing obits as "punishment." The geezers never caught on, but each of Molly's obits included the deceased's favorite foods or restaurants. And she got to write the obit I always wanted to write: John McGoff's (Panax). Here's a shot o' whiskey to Molly!!!
►Felicia Henderson: A sad day in Metro Detroit.
Molly Abraham was beloved by so many in the community and by local journalists. She had two stints in the Detroit News features department. Molly joined The News staff 2002-03 and we were blessed to work with her for more than 15 years before retiring in 2018. Melody Malosh and I pleaded with her to write a farewell column or let us send her off in grand style. She refused. She wanted to quietly pass the baton to Melody.
A quick story: When she worked at the Free Press in the ‘90s, she and Angelo (Henderson's late husband) became workout buddies in a lunchtime aerobics class the newspaper offered. He would come with Molly stories all the time! And she was equally fond of him, even donating to his scholarship fund a few years ago.
I’ll miss her presence chiming in on Facebook posts. She's now in paradise. Molly, we’ll never forget you.