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Edith Baillie - The Spirit of the First Ward

Edith Baillie was born in East Saginaw on May 18, 1884. After graduating from Saginaw High School -- then known as the Eastside High School -- her interest in social work led her to Detroit. After studying at what is now Wayne State University, she worked at the Franklin Settlement House.

In 1936, she returned to Saginaw to operate the First Ward Community Center. Founded in 1931 when the Junior League, then known as the Service Club of Saginaw, opened a community house and clinic, First Ward Community Center became the focus of Edith Baillie’s life.

One of her mottos was "Problems must be solved by working together.”

Her biography on the Saginaw County Hall of Fame website notes:

She worked to abolish discrimination at all levels with support from the community. She led the fight for better housing and helped bring running water to [the First Ward].”

“Edith believed “Everybody should have a chance to get to the top of the ladder…to get what he is capable of getting…to own a home where he can afford to live.” The First Ward Community Center held numerous classes to teach the residents what life skills they needed such as cooking, conduct in various social occasions, nutrition and childcare classes and metal working. In 1949 a grant from the C.K. Eddy Fund enabled the center to construct the Eddy Field House for the residents to play sports like boxing, tumbling and wrestling. Today the classes include theatre, life skills, science technology and new math.”

“Among her many awards was a plaque from the American Legion Post 312 for her contribution to the good life, the Civitan Club Award and the Dale Carnegie Club Award. In 1957, an elementary school on North 23rd Street was named the Edith Baillie Elementary School after being unanimously voted on by the Saginaw Board of Education.”

She was known as being tireless in her promotion of First War Community Center; however, she never promoted herself. She retired from the first Ward Community Center after 29 years of service – originally, she had only planned on staying one year. She passed away in 1975 and was inducted into the Saginaw County Hall of Fame in 2016.


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