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Willie B. Kennedy, 90

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Willie B. Kennedy

Willie B. Kennedy

By Brea Hammonds

Former San Francisco supervisor Willie B. Kennedy, 90, passed away Friday, June 28 after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week.Kennedy served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1981 to 1996. Since then, she has served as president of the Southeast Community Facility Commission.
Mayor Edwin M. Lee released a statement on Kennedy’s passing earlier this week.
“Willie B. Kennedy was a leader in our city who was committed to improving the community and creating opportunities for our city’s children, youth and families…,” he wrote. “We have lost a true friend and champion of our city. Her fortitude and her resolve changed San Francisco for the better. Our thoughts and prayers remain with her family and friends at this time of sorrow.”

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IN MEMORIAM: Cheryl Hickmon: National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Dies

NNPA NEWSWIRE — THE BURTON WIRE — Hickmon, a beloved and celebrated member, served the organization for 39 years. The Connecticut native was initiated into the Alpha Xi Chapter at South Carolina State University in 1982 and was an active member of the Hartford (Conn.) Alumnae Chapter. The national office of the sorority released a statement announcing Hickmon’s  death which reads as follows, in part: “It is with great sorrow that Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. shares the passing of our beloved National President and Chair of the National Board of Directors, Cheryl A. Hickmon. President Hickmon transitioned peacefully on January 20, 2022 after a recent illness.

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Cheryl Hickmon, national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, the nation’s largest African-American sorority.

By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D, NNPA Newswire Culture and Entertainment Editor

The nation is mourning the passing of Cheryl Hickmon, national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, the nation’s largest African-American sorority. Hickmon was elected president of the organization dedicated to sisterhood, scholarship and service  November 21, 2021 at the 55th national convention held in Atlanta, GA.

Hickmon, a beloved and celebrated member, served the organization for 39 years. The Connecticut native was initiated into the Alpha Xi Chapter at South Carolina State University in 1982 and was an active member of the Hartford (Conn.) Alumnae Chapter. The national office of the sorority released a statement announcing Hickmon’s  death which reads as follows:

“It is with great sorrow that Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. shares the passing of our beloved National President and Chair of the National Board of Directors, Cheryl A. Hickmon. President Hickmon transitioned peacefully on January 20, 2022 after a recent illness.

President Hickmon was a devoted member of Delta Sigma Theta since 1982 and served in various capacities at the chapter, region, and national level before being elected National President. She is remembered not only for her role as a leader but for being a colleague, friend, and most of all, sister.

The entire sisterhood of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated mourns the loss of President Hickmon. During this difficult time, we ask that you respect her family’s privacy and keep them in your prayers.”

In addition to serving as the national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Cheryl was employed at Montefiore’s Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Health in Hartsdale, NY where she supervised the In Vitro Fertilization Laboratories for Andrology and Endocrinology. A licensed Clinical Laboratory Technologist, Hickmon worked in the Reproductive Medical Laboratory for more than 30 years.
Members and supporters have been offering remembrances and calling for prayers in response to Hickmon’s death. Florida representative Val Demings,  who is a member of the sorority, shared her thoughts via Twitter:
Organizations including the NAACP and fellow Black Greek Letter Organizations like Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma and Alpha Kappa Alpha have issued statements about Hickmon’s passing.

Cheryl Hickmon is the daughter of the late Dr. Ned Hickmon of Hartford, CT and Bishopville, South Carolina and the late Consuella Anderson Hickmon of Hartford, CT and Cincinnati, Ohio. She is survived by her two older brothers Ned and David Hickmon.

Hickmon’s bio reads, “Cheryl lives her life by the motto … ‘Don’t measure life by the number of breaths you take but by the number of moments that take your breath away.’” She was 60.

This obituary was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Instagram or Twitter @TheBurtonWire. 

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Bay Area

IN MEMORIAM: Kituria Littlejohn McConnell, 71

Kit was born July 16, 1950, in Salisbury, North Carolina, to Horace and Esther Littlejohn. She was raised in Washington, D.C., where she married Attorney Gregory (Greg) R. McConnell in 1973. The couple first met at Backus Junior High School in 1963. They attended Coolidge High School and Howard University where Kit graduated in 1972 with a degree in English.

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Kituria (Kit) Littlejohn McConnell
Kituria (Kit) Littlejohn McConnell

July 16, 1950 – Jan. 16, 2022

Kituria (Kit) Littlejohn McConnell passed away peacefully at her home in Danville, California, surrounded by her family, on Jan. 16, 2022 at the age of 71, following a two-year battle with cancer.

Kit was born July 16, 1950, in Salisbury, North Carolina, to Horace and Esther Littlejohn. She was raised in Washington, D.C., where she married Attorney Gregory (Greg) R. McConnell in 1973.

The couple first met at Backus Junior High School in 1963. They attended Coolidge High School and Howard University where Kit graduated in 1972 with a degree in English.

It was during their time together at Howard University that they dated, and Kit honored Greg by agreeing to be his lifelong partner. Their marriage extended for 48 years until Kit’s passing.

After graduation from Howard, Kit excelled as a teacher at Eastern High School. Due to her exceptional teaching and interpersonal skills, she was tapped to teach a range of students with various achievement levels.

Kit and Greg lived in the Washington, D.C., area until they moved to Hercules, California, in 1985. Her hobbies included reading, decorating, and traveling. Kit is regarded as a loving and kind woman who was thoroughly devoted to her family and friends. She was truly a good person that no one ever said an unkind word about. She was the spiritual leader of her family, firmly grounded in decency, compassion and sharing her goodwill toward all.

Kit is survived by her husband, Gregory R. McConnell; her three devoted children, Kalela Washington and husband Spencer of Olney, MD; Gregory (JR) McConnell Jr. of Oakland, CA, and Kimberley Riberdy and husband Jason of Dublin, CA; grandchildren Aliya G. Washington and Kituria J. Riberdy; sisters Phyllis Palm and Montressa Fisher; brother Horace G. Littlejohn, III; a host of loving in-laws, nieces, and nephews; and a score of lifelong devoted friends.

Kit is now reunited with her parents, Horace and Esther Littlejohn, and her sister, Millicent Littlejohn Wheeler who preceded her in death.

The family will convene a memorial service in the Washington, D.C., area this spring that will also be available for remote viewing. In lieu of flowers or other sentiments, the family requests that you go to your loved ones, hug them, and tell them you love them.

Thank you, Kit, for a love supreme.

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Barbara Lee

IN MEMORIAM: Legendary Journalist Gail Berkley Dies at 74

East Bay Congresswoman Barbara Lee also remembered her longtime friend. “My prayers and condolences go to the family and loved ones of Gail Berkley-Armstrong. Gail was an institution in Bay Area journalism,” Lee said. “She wrote about and lifted up the Black community for decades, including as the editor of the Oakland Post and most recently at the Sun-Reporter.”

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Gail Berkley-Armstrong with husband Ray Armstrong
Gail Berkley-Armstrong with husband Ray Armstrong

She Worked for Black Press for Over 48 Years

By Evan Carlton Ward, San Francisco Sun-Reporter

Gail Cordelia Berkley-Armstrong, legendary awarding-winning Bay Area journalist and Sun-Reporter editor, has died after a lengthy illness. She was 74.

She was born Jan. 5, 1947, in Berkeley, California. She attended Berkeley public schools and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. She passed away peacefully in Oakland on Dec. 26, 2021, surrounded by family.

The veteran journalist was committed to the mission of the Black Press of America, whose motto is – “Too long have others spoken for us…we wish to plead our own cause.”

“I truly enjoy my work at the Sun-Reporter, helping to be sure the news and information important to the African American community is available to our readers each week,” she said. “It is critical that the voices, perspectives and opinions of our community, the leaders and citizens working for change have an outlet in the Bay Area. It is equally important to highlight the milestones and contributions of those too often left unrecognized in other media.”

Sun-Reporter Publisher and friend Amelia Ashley-Ward called Berkley-Armstrong a quiet genius, a loyal and faithful community servant and an exceptional writer. “Bringing Gail aboard as editor in 2005 was one of the best things I’ve done in my life. She was my rock and trusted sister friend. She was the best of Everything. I am totally lost without her. In grateful appreciation of her remarkable life and service, I will continue the struggle.”

Prior to joining the staff at the Sun-Reporter Publishing Company, Berkley-Armstrong was the longtime executive editor and assistant to the publisher of the Post Newspaper Group in Oakland. The Post Newspaper Group was founded by her late father, Attorney Thomas L. Berkley.

She was also committed to giving her time and talent to community organizations and served as president of the African Sister City Cultural Center, Inc. As president, she led the nonprofit organization in its mission to support the City of Oakland’s Sister City relationship with the twin cities Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana.

East Bay Congresswoman Barbara Lee also remembered her longtime friend.

“My prayers and condolences go to the family and loved ones of Gail Berkley-Armstrong. Gail was an institution in Bay Area journalism,” Lee said. “She wrote about and lifted up the Black community for decades, including as the editor of the Oakland Post and most recently at the Sun-Reporter.”

Congresswoman Lee added, “I spoke with her earlier this year on the centennial of the Tulsa massacre, and as always, her questions reflected her deep insight and her compassion for the subjects she covered. One of her many accomplishments was the sister city agreement between Oakland and Sekondi-Takoradi in Ghana, which helped to provide fresh water and sanitation to children there. My heart is with everyone who is mourning this loss. May she rest in peace and power.”

Berkley was also secretary of the Board of Directors of her church, Lakeside Temple of Practical Christianity in Oakland.

Berkley-Armstrong was co-founder of Cacao Branch Children’s Hospital, Oakland.

She served on several boards of directors of community-based organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the Bay Area Urban League, Inc., Bay Area United Fund, Dimensions Dance Theater, Inc. and Black Adoption Placement and Research Center.

She was a founding member of New California Media (now New America Media). She also was a member of the Patrons of the Arts and Humanities of the Bay Area, The African American Museum and Library Coalition, and the Oakland Museum Cultural and Ethnic Affairs Guild’s Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Committee.

The community servant also served as a public relations and marketing consultant and editor for private clients.

Berkley-Armstrong has received many awards for her community work over the years. She received the Pioneer Award from New America Media, and recognition for community service by: State of California Legislature, City and County of San Francisco, Alameda County, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Allen Temple Baptist Church, East Bay Women’s Political Action Committee, Ebony Museum of California, Today’s Women, Inc., College Bounders Committee and the East Bay Area Club of the National Council of Negro Women.

After hearing of Berkley-Armstrong’s passing, former San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. said “In the more than five decades of being written about in the press, nobody covered me more actively and objectively. Gail will be greatly missed.”

She loved traveling and meeting people of other cultures and nations. She toured Europe, Ghana, South America, Mexico, Jamaica, Cuba and other Caribbean nations. The journalist also visited the Ivory Coast, Malaysia, the Fiji Islands and Morocco.

As a child, she was exposed to the diversity of cultures within the Bay Area and beyond by her mother – the late Etta Jordan Hill, an educator and artist.

‘Both of my parents were trailblazers and courageous individuals who did not take ‘no’ for an answer. They were both role models for me. They taught by example how to meet challenges, and my mother made sure that my two sisters and I knew the importance of belief and faith in God,” Berkley-Armstrong stated.

She is survived by her husband, Ray Armstrong, sisters Theon C. King, Miriam Rhea Berkley, a host of other relatives, her Sun-Reporter Family and a grateful community.

A memorial service is pending.

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