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The Didlake family was part of the migration of families from Alabama to the coal mining counties in eastern Kentucky. In 1943, Emma Didlake and her family were still living in Lynch when she went to Cincinnati, OH and enlisted in the Army, according to her record in the National Archives, Access to Archival Databases. A driver while in the military, she served less than a year. After her service she and her family moved to Detroit, MI, in 1944. Her husband Oscar Didlake died in Detroit in 1973.
Emma Didlake was a licensed hair dresser and a civil rights activist in Detroit. In 2013, she was awarded the James Weldon Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award at the 58th Annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner held by the Detroit NAACP.
Emma L. Underwood Didlake died in West Bloomfield, MI in 2015 and is buried at the Westlawn Cemetery. Prior to her death, she was thought to be the oldest living veteran of World War II. She had met with President Obama in the Oval Office about a month before her death.
Sources: "In Brief: Services held for 110-year-old veteran," The Herald-Palladium, 8/23/2015, p. A4; Michigan Marriage Records in Ancestry; Tammy S. Battaglia, "NAACP Freedom Fund dinner draws 5,000 to celebration," Detroit Free Press, 4/29/2013, pp. A1 and 7A; Jeff Karoub, "Woman deemed oldest US veteran set for honor flight to meet Obama," The Times Herald, 7/17/2015, p. A5; and Emma "Big Mama" Underwood Didlake at Find A Grave.
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Cite This NKAA Entry:
“Didlake, Emma L. Underwood,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed September 23, 2023, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/300004520.
Last modified: 2023-05-15 15:57:46