Gloria S. Ross | St. Louis Public Radio

Gloria S. Ross

Gloria S. Ross is the head of Okara Communications and AfterWords, an obituary-writing and design service.

Pelagie Green Wren
Provided by the family

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When 19-year-old Pelagie Green kicked up her heels in the Muny chorus during the 1962 season, she was the first African American to do so.

Her history-making debut came nearly 50 years after trees and shrubs had been cleared between the giant oak trees in Forest Park for the performance of Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

Dr. Helen Nash
Washington University

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Dr. Helen Nash, the first African-American physician on staff at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, was as well known for her outspoken advocacy on behalf of children as for her practice of medicine. She died Thursday at her home in Creve Coeur. She was 91.

"She was very staunch in her commitment to doing what was right, particularly for underserved children," said Dr. Michael R. Debaun, one of Dr. Nash’s former patients. "She did what was right even when others were bashful or reluctant."

The Very Rev. J.C. Michael Allen
Christ Church Cathedral

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Very Rev. J.C. Michael Allen, who led the racially diverse, boisterous and often controversial Christ Church Cathedral Episcopal Church for more than two decades, died yesterday.

At the cathedral, Dean Allen started a shelter for the homeless, opened a child care center for children of the working poor and boldly proclaimed his support of abortion, gay rights and care for people with AIDS.

Dr. Bernard Becker
Provided by Washington University

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Bernard Becker, M.D., a world renowned ophthalmologist who fought anti-Semitism as a student and, as a professional, refused to work in a hospital that would not provide care to African-American patients, died Wednesday (Aug. 28), at his home in the Central West End. He was 93.

Jim Mattingly and his wife, Cheryl
Family photo

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Jim Mattingly, a well-known name in St. Louis outdoor soccer who was even better known as the longtime owner of Mattingly’s, a popular St. Louis County sports bar, died unexpectedly of an apparent heart attack at his home in St. Charles Sunday morning (Aug. 25). He was 64.

Bob Reuter
Bill Streeter | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Bob Reuter wore his crown as the unofficial “King of South St. Louis” slightly askew. He wrote, performed and lived like a man possessed, probably because he was at times. He readily confessed to lapses of “debauchery” that included drinking, heavy drugs and sometimes contemplating suicide.

Virginia Johnson Masters
Martin Schweig photo

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon Mary Virginia Masters, known from her work as Virginia E. Johnson, spent 35 years as half of a sex research team that was internationally lauded and sometimes castigated for exposing bedroom secrets while reassuring people that sex is normal and that their sex lives could get better through therapy. Ms. Masters died Wednesday (July 24, 2013). She was 88.

Rosemary Ward Wellington
St. Joseph's Academy Alumnae Association

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Rosemary Ward Wellington, who was born at a time when it was widely accepted that women were too fragile for strenuous exercise, defied convention and played, taught or coached every sport offered at St. Joseph’s Academy for girls.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Betty Robinson enlisted in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty nine years after the war began in 1964. She remained a foot soldier for nearly 40 years. Her battles were fought on behalf of children through the Head Start program.

Gussie Feehan in 2012
Episcopal Mission Gala photo

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Gussie Feehan’s death at age 106 last week caught everyone by surprise.

Elliot Elson
Gloria Ross | For the St. Louis Beacon |2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Part of Elliot Elson’s current research has led to the creation of artificial heart tissue that can beat on its own. Tiny pieces thump, thump, thump in petri dishes. The engineered muscles permit scientists to study the possible causes, effects and treatments of heart attacks and hypertension.

Sunny Glassberg
Provided by the family

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - Sunny Glassberg, whose generosity buttressed many of St. Louis’ proudest educational, civic and cultural institutions, and who gave hundreds of single mothers and older adults a chance at a college degree, humbly and delightedly accepted the title of "the Turtle Lady."

She was so-nicknamed for "a little gem; that wonderfully whimsical Turtle Park," said Peter Raven, president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Patricia and Fredrick McKissack
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Col. Hardenbergh noted the birth of another slave with the same indifference he might have shown a calf or lamb.

The line from Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a Woman, the fictionalized account of the life of a freed slave who became an abolitionist, embodies the crisp, enthralling style of Patricia McKissack and her husband, Fredrick McKissack.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Richard Stith's mother gave away his clothes while he was flying unarmed transport planes during World War II because she never expected to see him alive again. When he died Sunday (Feb. 10, 2013) of lung cancer, he was 93.

After returning from the war a decorated pilot, he became a successful insurance executive, served two terms as mayor of Clayton and helped found the Independence Center, a place where mentally ill adults learn self-sufficiency. The center, like the legion of civic and charitable organizations he led, benefited from his prominence in the community.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Rabbi Jim Diamond would concede nothing to evil. The sermon he delivered on the morning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, offered a gentle assurance.

“We must remind ourselves that in spite of all its ugliness and evil, this is a good and beautiful world,” he preached.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When the St. Louis-born artist known professionally only as “Martyl,” died Tuesday night in Chicago, she was 10 days past her 96th birthday – and just weeks away from her next exhibit.

“She had prepared for it and was completely ready,” said her brother, well-known St. Louis photographer Martin Schweig.

Works on Paper and Mylar 1967-2012, will open as scheduled on May 3, at the Printworks Gallery in Chicago. It will be a celebration of her life and her work as an acclaimed painter since she won an art competition at age 11.

Dr. Leslie F. Bond Sr.
Courtesy of the family Dr. Leslie F. Bond Sr.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When Dr. Leslie Bond was selling newspapers as a boy in Galesburg, Ill., he couldn’t take a lunch break in a diner with the other newspaper boys.

“I couldn’t sit at a lunch counter,” he recalled in a 1999 profile in the book, Lift Every Voice and Sing. “I had to get my lunch in a sack, while my white friends who sold newspapers with me ate right there.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In 1963, when it appeared that blacks protesting the discriminatory practices at Jefferson Bank and Trust Co. in St. Louis were not being taken seriously, Dr. Jerome Williams thought it was time to step up and step in.

He organized doctors and other professionals to join the marchers.

“Jerome Williams did a fantastic job of organizing support,” said civil rights activist Norman R. Seay. “We saluted him because so many people were against what we were doing, even many middle-class blacks.”

“The Perry Como of St. Louis” has died.

In the 1950s and ‘60s when he was leading the hottest dance band in St. Louis, that’s how keyboard virtuoso Dick Renna was billed.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Women in wraps and headties as bright as the early morning sun emerge from “miomba” woodlands along narrow, well-worn paths into a clearing. Babies are securely nestled in slings against their backs. Many have walked for hours, some for days, to get to this place.  

From a distance, it’s an exquisite sight.

A closer look reveals that many of the children so lovingly cradled are sick and dying. They are starving. The young mothers have brought their children to a mobile clinic in a remote African village in search of a miracle.

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