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Obituaries

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.

Dr. Harrison B. Wilson Jr., longtime president of NSU, dies at 94

Dr. Harrison B. Wilson Jr., who served as president of Nor- folk State University for 22 years and whose grandson, Russell Wilson, is the superstar quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, died Sunday, July 28, 2019. He was 94.

Joan B. Winston, executive director of the former Gold Bowl, dies at 88

Joan Loretta Banks Winston was often considered the “glue” that held organizations together.

Art Neville, one of the legendary musical Neville Brothers, dies at 81

Art Neville, a member of a storied New Orleans musical family who performed with his siblings in The Neville Brothers band and founded the groundbreaking funk group The Meters, died Monday, July 22, 2019, at his home

Dr. Edith Irby Jones, first female president of the National Medical Association, dies at 91

Dr. Edith Irby Jones, one of the first African-American students to enroll at an all-white medical school in the South and later the first female president of the National Medical Association, has died.

Elijah ‘Pumpsie’ Green, first black player for the Boston Red Sox, dies at 85

Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, who became the first African-American player for the Boston Red Sox in 1959, died Wednesday, July 17, 2019, in El Cerrito, Calif.

Boxing champ ‘Sweet Pea’ Whitaker killed in Virginia Beach accident

Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker, a fourtime world champion boxer from Norfolk, died Sunday, July 14, 2019, after being struck by a car in Virginia Beach.

Jawad Abdu, co-founder of RVA League for Safer Streets, dies at 48

Jawad Abdu, co-founder of RVA League for Safer Streets, a basketball and mentorship program designed to help reduce crime and violence and elevate young men in Richmond’s public housing communities, died Friday, July 12, 2019, of a heart attack.

Phil Freelon, architect of the African-American history museum in D.C., dies at 66

Architect Phil Freelon, who designed buildings ranging from local libraries to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, died Tuesday, July 9, 2019, in Durham, N.C.

William F. Brown, co-creator of ‘The Wiz,’ dies at 91

William F. Brown, an author and illustrator who was best known for writing the book of the Tony Award-winning 1975 musical “The Wiz,” died Sunday, June 23, 2019, at a hospital in Norwalk, Conn. He was 91.

Sandra T. Mitchell, longtime city social worker, dies at 75

As a social worker for 27 years with Richmond Public Schools, Dr. Sandra Marie Tilly Mitchell counseled and worked with hundreds of students to help them overcome personal and family challenges that disrupted their lives and their education.

Brandon Robertson, artist, dies at 36

Tribute messages are posted on a side wall of Jade Multicultural Salon in Church Hill in remembrance of talented Richmond graphic designer and digital artist Brandon Robertson.