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Obituaries

Thelma M. Robinston, longtime Richmond educator, dies at 99

Fueled by a love of education, Thelma Mealy Robinson rose from teacher to principal to assistant superintendent during a career largely with Richmond Public Schools that spanned more than 40 years.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder Joseph Shabalala dies

The founder of the South African multi-Grammy Award-winning music group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Joseph Shabalala, has died at age 78, the group and the government have announced.

Emmy-nominated actress Paula Kelly has died at 77

Actress, singer and dancer Paula Kelly, who earned an Emmy Award nomination on the sitcom “Night Court” and co-starred with Chita Rivera and Shirley MacLaine in the film “Sweet Charity,” has died. She was 77.

Longtime area photographer Waverly L. Williams Sr. succumbs at 76

Have camera, will travel. That was the motto of photographer Waverly Lee Williams Sr., who was always on the go to capture images of people, places and events, mostly in the Richmond area.

Dr. Aaron L. Dixon, former principal at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, dies at 62

“Impact children’s lives today for tomorrow.” That slogan shaped the career of Dr. Aaron Lorenzo Dixon, his family said.

Frank Tunstall III, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1220, dies at 70

Frank Tunstall III, the veteran president and business agent for GRTC’s unionized bus drivers, has died.

Willie H. Gillenwater, one of the city's first certified special education teachers, dies at 91

Willie Harris Gillenwater was a pioneer in educating children with mental challenges in Richmond Public Schools.

Anthony 'Pete' Rogers, retired educator, principal with RPS, dies at 92

Anthony Warren “Pete” Rogers was an advocate for teaching Richmond students how to work with their hands during his 35-year career with the city’s public schools.

Jazz saxophonist and composer Jimmy Heath dies at 93

Jimmy Heath, a Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist and composer who performed with such greats as Miles Davis and John Coltrane before forming the popular family group The Heath Brothers in middle age, has died. He was 93.

Howard E. Fitts Sr., former president of Robinson-Harris & Co., dies at 95

For more than 40 years, Howard E. Fitts Sr. was a key figure in buying and selling property in Richmond.

Longtime political cartoonist Ron Rogers dies at 65

Ron Rogers, a longtime political cartoonist whose start began in 1980 for the former Richmond Afro-American and Planet, died Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, after a sudden illness.

Mary F. Conyers, former RPS teacher, dies at 87

Mary Foster Conyers never forgot a promise she made to her father when she got married — that she would complete her college degree.

Byron E. Howlett Sr., former head of Richmond Heritage Federal Credit Union, dies at 73

Byron E. Howlett Sr. led the modernization of the Richmond Heritage Federal Credit Union during his 19 years as the second president and chief execu- tive officer of the oldest African-American financial institution still in operation in Richmond.

Former Richmonder Beatrice O. Scott dies at 77

Former Richmonder Beatrice Odom Scott went off to Baltimore where she earned recognition for her roles in education, political and neighborhood affairs.

Longtime educator, Girl Scout leader Gloria W. Hawkins dies at 92

Gloria Wheeler Hawkins was an unforgettable instructor for many of the students during her 40-year career as a schoolteacher in Richmond and other communities.

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