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Obituaries

Margaret Rodgers, retired teacher and tech guru for RPS, dies at 75

Margaret Aurelia “Rea” Rodgers was a teacher’s teacher in Richmond Public Schools when it came to computers and technology.

Trailblazing actress Diahann Carroll succumbs to cancer at 84

Diahann Carroll, a versatile singer and stage actress who quietly blazed a trail for African-American women on American television in the late 1960s by playing a widowed nurse and single mother in “Julia,” died Friday, Oct. 4, 2019.

Barbara W. Rabin, a founder of HOME, dies at 86

Most people take for granted that if they have the money to pay rent or cover a mortgage, they can live anywhere they want in the Richmond area. But that was not the case 50 years ago when skin color ...

International opera star Jessye Norman dies at 74

Jessye Norman, the renowned international opera star whose passionate soprano voice won her four Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honor, has died, according to family spokesperson Gwendolyn Quinn.

Ramona J. Craighead, longtime educator and community volunteer, dies at 92

Ramona Johnson Craighead “was a nurse to some, a teacher to many and a role model and friend to all,” as her family put it. Mrs. Craighead, a former Richmond educator and community and church volunteer, died Friday, Sept. 13, ...

Ira P. Washington Jr., retired educator and sports enthusiast, dies at 79

For Ira Payne Washington Jr., guiding middle school students to academic achievement was a calling. For nearly 50 years, he was a fixture at Henderson Middle School in Richmond’s North Side where he taught, ran the in-school suspension program and ...

The Rev. George Nelson West, longtime area pastor, succumbs at 95

The Rev. George Nelson West, a longtime area religious leader who served several churches in Richmond, died Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019.

Arlington R. Banks, owner of Banks Coin Laundry in Jackson Ward, dies at 81

Arlington Raymond Banks spent much of his life clean- ing the dirt from people’s clothes, towels, sheets and other fabrics. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, Mr. Banks operated a coin laundry and dry cleaners in Jackson ...

Acclaimed writer Paule Marshall, professor emeritus at VCU, dies at 90

Writer Paule Marshall, an exuberant and sharpened storyteller who in books such as “Daughters” and “Brown Girl, Brownstones” drew upon classic and vernacular literature and her mother’s kitchen conversations to narrate the divides between African-Americans and Caucasians, men and women, ...

William M. ‘Bill’ Jones Jr., former Richmond corporate executive, dies at 88

William M. “Bill” Jones Jr., who was the first African-American corporate manager and personnel development manager at Thalhimers in Richmond, died Saturday, July 27, 2019, in Dallas, where he and his family have lived for many years. He was 88.

Dr. Martha C. Cook, longtime educator and former first lady of Ebenezer Baptist Church, dies at 82

Dr. Martha Louise Charles Cook combined a love of science and education with her faith. Dr. Cook taught the basics of biology to students in Richmond Public Schools and other school districts in a teaching career that spanned more than ...

Eugene A. Mason Jr., who served on the Richmond School Board and City Council, dies at 78

From the roof of J.L. Francis Elementary School to City Council chambers at City Hall, Eugene A. Mason Jr. was a constant force in improving public education in Richmond.

Toni Morrison, who transformed American literature to win Nobel and Pulitzer prizes, dies at 88

Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, a pioneer and reigning giant of modern literature whose imaginative power in “Beloved,” “Song of Solomon” and other works transformed American letters by dramatizing the pursuit of freedom within the boundaries of race, has died at ...

Daniel 'Sonny Strong' Gordon Jr., karate instructor at YMCA, dies at 79

Karate Grandmaster Daniel Gordon Jr., nicknamed “Sonny Strong,” died Thursday, July 11, in Richmond. Mr. Gordon was 79 and had taught martial arts at the Downtown YMCA for more than 40 years. His pupils over the decades ranged in age ...

Cliff Branch, former NFL receiver, dies at 71

Cliff Branch, one of the premier deep receiver threats in NFL history, died Saturday, Aug. 3, at age 71.

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