Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, who worked with Work in the NAACP branch, called her a "role model" when it came to pushing for African-Americans' right to vote, The Detroit News reported Sunday.
"She was our role model of role models," Watson said. "She told us what she thought."
In a 2000 tribute at the Lewis College of Business, Work detailed how she was motivated by her activist grandfather's near-death experience with a Ku Klux Klan mob in Kentucky.
"Because of the strength and courage of my grandfather, my family has always believed in upholding our right to self-determination, dignity, education, the vote and justice," Work said. "And I will uphold those principles all of the days of my life."
The newspaper said Work, who died last Wednesday of unspecified causes, is survived by her sister, Dorothy White, and several nephews, nieces and cousins.