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Obituaries

Grammy Award winner Bill Withers dies at 81

Bill Withers, who wrote and sang a string of soulful songs in the 1970s that have stood the test of time, including “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Lean on Me,” “Grandma’s Hands” and “Just the Two of Us,” died Monday, March 30, ...

Jazz pianist, professor and family patriarch Ellis Marsalis Jr. dies at 85 of complications from coronavirus

Ellis Marsalis Jr., the jazz pianist, professor and patriarch of a New Orleans musical clan, died late Wednesday, April 1, 2020, from pneumonia brought on by coronavirus, leaving six sons and a deep legacy. He was 85.

Robert W. “Bob” Peay, longtime social work educator, dies at 75

Robert W. “Bob” Peay helped train two generations of social workers in the Richmond area and beyond during his 27 years as a faculty member at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Social Work.

Earl G. Graves Sr., founder of Black Enterprise magazine and champion for black economic empowerment, dies at 85

Earl G. Graves Sr., who inspired generations of African-Americans to build wealth through stories published in Black Enterprise, the magazine he founded, died Monday, April 6, 2020, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 85.

Preddy D. Ray Sr., longtime affordable housing advocate who sought to keep people in their neighborhoods, dies at 69

In 1971, Preddy Drew Ray Sr. was among a group of nine Richmond college students who packed their bags and went to a Cincinnati conference on af- fordable housing and the role community groups could play.

Corine R. Farrar, veteran Richmond educator, dies at 90

Veteran Richmond educator Corine Ransom Farrar was best known for helping elementary students master arithmetic and the rudiments of algebra.

NASA pioneer Katherine Johnson takes her place among the stars

Three African-American astronauts joined hundreds of other mourners Saturday, March 7, at a funeral service for trailblazing mathematician and NASA pioneer Katherine G. Johnson.

John Merchant, who broke barriers at U.Va. law school and in golf, dies at 87

John F. Merchant broke racial barriers in the legal profession and in the game of golf.

Jazz master pianist ‘McCoy’ Tyner dies at 81

“McCoy” Tyner, the ground- breaking and influential jazz pianist and the last surviving member of the John Coltrane Quartet, has died. He was 81.

Rev. William E. Clarke, longtime teach and minister, succumbs at 83

The Rev. William Edward Clarke built a reputation as a kind, helpful person in following two career paths — teaching and the ministry.

Richard R. Jiggetts, who was instrumental in rebuilding of First Baptist Church Centralia, dies at 98

When arson destroyed the historic but vacant former sanctuary of First Baptist Church Centralia in 1996, everyone bemoaned the fiery loss of an irreplaceable church building.

Funeral service Saturday at Hampton University for NASA's Katherine Johnson

A funeral service has been set for Katherine G. Johnson, the trailblazing mathematical genius whose calculations for NASA influenced every major space program from America’s first manned space flight in 1961 to the first lunar landing in 1969 to the ...

Katherine G. Johnson, trailblazing NASA mathematician immortalized in the film 'Hidden Figures,' dies at 101

Katherine G. Johnson, the mathematical genius whose calculations took her from a behind-the-scenes job in a segregated NASA as portrayed in the film “Hidden Figures” to a key role in sending humans to the moon, died on Monday, Feb. 24, ...

Dr. Levy M. Armwood Jr., retired pastor, music teacher, dies at 79

Dr. Levy Mack Armwood Jr., retired pastor of historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Jackson Ward and a 32-year music teacher for Richmond Public Schools, has died.

Restaurateur, model B. Smith dies at 70 from early onset Alzheimer’s

Barbara “B.” Smith, one of the nation’s top African-American models who went on to open restaurants, launch a successful home products line and write cookbooks, has died at her Long Island home at age 70 after battling early onset Alzheimer’s ...