RIP: Sally Ride, Sherman Hemsley and Sylvia Woods

Sally Ride, Sherman Hemsley and Sylvia Woods

It’s been a rough two weeks. Between the deaths of rapper Ms. Melodie, restauranteur Sylvia Woods, actor Sherman Hemsley and astronaut Sally Ride, here’s hoping everyone else keeps on living until at least Friday.

Soul Food restaurant pioneer Sylvia Woods, owner and founder of Sylvia’s in Harlem, New York, passed away last week after a battle with Alzheimer’s. She was 86. Woods’ homegoing ceremony was held on Tuesday at Absynian Baptist Church in Harlem, according to the New York Post:

Paul George, 63, a retired city worker who lives in the neighborhood, said, “Mondays she gave out food to the community. Is there any other restaurant that gives out free food?” …

From its start as a restaurant, Sylvia’s has grown to include multiple cookbooks and a nationwide line of food products. The restaurant marked its 50th anniversary in August.

On Tuesday, we learned that Sherman Hemsley, the actor who played the hilarious George Jefferson on the 1970s sitcom The Jeffersons, passed away. He was 74. Hemsley also played the character Deacon Ernest Frye on the 1980s sitcom Amen. If you don’t remember Amen, Frye’s daughter was Thelma and she was always chasing the Pastor and they gave all of the good lines to Deacon Rolly, the old dude in the corner. Watch the Amen introduction music below:

And finally, astronaut and awesome woman trailblazer Sally Ride has died of pancreatic cancer. She was 61. And now people are worried about whether she was a lesbian or not. Who cares? She hung out in outer space! Her sexuality is neither here nor there unless someone is trying to keep her estate from her partner, in which case, yes, it matters. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

The obituary published Monday on her website, sallyridescience.com, was the first public acknowledgment of what only Ride’s friends and family knew: She is survived by “Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years.”

“Sally never hid her relationship with Tam,” Sally Ride’s sister, Karen “Bear” Ride, said in an e-mail to The Chronicle. “They were partners, business partners in Sally Ride Science, they wrote books together, and Sally’s very close friends, of course, knew of their love for each other. We consider Tam a member of our family.”

The inclusion of the relationship in Ride’s website obituary “was done with her blessing,” said Terry McEntee, Ride’s assistant and co-founder of Sally Ride Science. O’Shaughnessy declined to be interviewed.

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