Montclair resident Angela Bledsoe remembered for leadership skills, warmth
By ERIN ROLL and JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
Angela Bledsoe made a difference during her time as a member of her university alumni association's executive board.
She helped organize an alumni breakfast that was a fundraiser for the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association's scholarship program. That breakfast raised $700,000 in a matter of hours.
In addition, she was also a very good friend. "Just genuinely sweet," said Gregory Clark, the association's president.
The association was trying to cope with the news that Bledsoe, 44, was killed earlier this week, allegedly at the hands of her boyfriend.
“Certainly we’re in shock, and it’s certainly very, very hurtful,” Clark said Thursday morning. “It’s tough right now.”
Police were called to the home that Bledsoe shared with her partner, 55-year-old James Ray, on North Mountain Avenue in Montclair just before midnight on Monday. Bledsoe was found to have sustained numerous gunshot wounds. She was pronounced dead at the scene just after 1 a.m. Tuesday.
As of Thursday, Ray was still at large.
The couple's child is in the care of family members.
Bledsoe was a financial services consultant with New York-based Securities America. She was also involved with the Montclair and Brooklyn alumnae chapters of Delta Sigma Theta, and with the Girl Scouts.
As national parliamentarian for the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association, Bledsoe was closely involved in business related to the association's constitution and bylaws. Her background in financial consulting came in very useful in her work on the association's finances committee.
Bledsoe had been one of Clark’s first appointees when he became the alumni association’s president three years ago. She served as the association’s national parliamentarian, and was a member of the finances committee and the constitution and bylaws committee.
Bledsoe’s financial background was an asset. She helped organize a fundraising breakfast, which raised money for scholarships. The breakfast raised $700,000. “She was part of the team that helped pull that together.”
Every year, during the alumni association’s national convention, Bledsoe would buy ties and handkerchiefs for all of the men on the executive board. Bledsoe would say, “‘I want all the men on our board to look good,’” Clark remembered. “We always looked forward to whatever tie combination she came up with.”
Bledsoe was really starting to come into her own as a leader within the alumni association, Clark said, and he and Bledsoe had actually been discussing Clark’s run for a second term as president. “She was engaged and smart. I think that’s the big thing. Very, very smart.”
Clark has been in touch with Bledsoe’s sister since Tuesday. Clark said that the association would plan a tribute for her as soon as they had guidance on from Bledsoe’s family.
Bledsoe's death is the second incident this year in Montclair in which a woman was killed allegedly by a current or former partner. In April, 20-year-old Akirah Townes was stabbed to death on Hartley Street. Her ex-boyfriend later turned himself in to police.
Kristin Wald is affiliated with SOFIA: Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates. The Montclair-based group assists people affected by domestic violence.
“Our hearts break for Angela Bledsoe and those who love her, including her young daughter. The shock and pain felt by those close to her and around her is a feeling too many people will share,” Wald said on Wednesday.
“We can all be a part of healing and support by peeling away the stigma of domestic violence and intimate partner violence and not turning away from its tragic effects after the headlines have moved on. We must also matter-of-factly acknowledge the deadly intersection of gun violence and domestic violence,” Wald said.
Anyone with information on Bledsoe's killing and Ray's whereabouts is asked to call the Essex County Prosecutor's Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tip line at 1-877-TIPS-4EC, or 1-877-847-7432.