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UPDATED: 11:00 a.m. ET, Jan. 15, 2021 —

While death is inevitably a part of life, that truth doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye to those who have died.

Famed and beloved gospel singer Duranice Pace died on Thursday, according to family members who confirmed via social media. She was 62-years-old. Pace was the eldest sister of “The Annointed Pace Sisters,” which consisted of Duranice, June Pace–Martin, Melonda Pace, Dejuaii Pace, Leslie Pace, Latrice Pace and Lydia Pace. The Atlanta-based group helped catapult the city into the mainstream as a musical landmark in the south.

Details surrounding her death are scarce. Those close to Pace confirmed that she battling an unknown illness and was hospitalized last week. On social media Pace’s supporters asked for prayers and well-wishes in hopes that she would recover.

On Thursday after her death was confirmed tributes poured out over social media, recounting the ways Pace and her sisters helped restore peace and tranquility in the hearts of those who sought praise and worship from their music.

Tim Lester, a former NFL star who was known on the gridiron as “The Bus Driver,” died on Jan. 12 from COVID-19 complications. He was 52. Lester played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Rams, and Dallas Cowboys during his almost decade long career in the game. Lester’s former teammate all-star Emmitt Smith memorialized him on Twitter after the tragic news broke.

“It’s a sad day to hear of Tim Lester’s passing…My thoughts go out to his family, Steelers Nation and his teammates that he so steadily blocked and protected. RIP to “The Bus Driver,” Smith wrote.

Former NABJ president Bryan Monroe died of a heart attack at his home in Bethesda, Maryland, on Jan. 13, according to a statement. Monroe served as president of the illustrious organization which provides advocacy and training for Black journalists, from 2005-2007. He was a chair member at Verizon and taught at the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University in Philadelphia.

“Bryan has been a trailblazer in our industry for years,” NABJ President Dorothy Tucker said. “We are both shocked and deeply saddened by his passing. He helped countless journalism professionals and students to hone their skills in achieving excellence in their craft.”

Meredith C. Anding Jr., a civil rights icon who as a member of the “Tougaloo Nine” was arrested for entering a “whites only” library in 1961, died Jan. 8. Anding was 79 years old. The cause of death was complications from leukemia. Scroll down to read more about his life.

Prior to that, best-selling author Eric Jerome Dickey died on Jan. 3 at the age of 59 after battling a long-term illness. Dickey helped forge a new path in urban fiction by sharing the intricacies of Black contemporary life to a wide, international audience.

The football world lost a legend as 2021 started when former college and professional star running back Floyd Little died on New Year’s Day. He was 78 years old.

Little died following a brief battle with cancer, according to the New York Times.

broncos ring of fame plaza

Source: Hyoung Chang / Getty

His football career began to take off as a high school star in Connecticut, but he transferred to a military school in New Jersey for his final two years to help prepare him for college academics as well as athletics.

The famous World War II Gen. Douglas MacArthur tried to recruit Little to play at the West Point U.S. military academy, something the football player recalled in “Promises to Keep,” his memoir published in 2012.

“General MacArthur shook my hand and talked to me about the value of education, about being a leader,” Little wrote. “I was told that if I went to Army, I could become the first Black general.”

Little in 1964 ultimately chose to attend Syracuse University, where he was a three-time all-American.

That collegiate stardom paved Little’s way to star in the then-AFL for the Denver Broncos, a team that later became part of the larger group of professional football franchises popularly known as the NFL. Speaking of “franchise,” that became Little’s nickname on the Broncos as he went on to set rushing marks from 1967 to 1975.

Little went on to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

President-elect Joe Biden, who also attended Syracuse University, extended his heartfelt condolences after hearing the news that his “friend” Little had died.

“Floyd Little and I were students at Syracuse University together. I was in law school and he was a star halfback on the football team,” Biden said in a statement released to the press on Saturday.

Biden went on to describe a good, mutual friendship that they enjoyed through the decades.

“In the years that followed, I got to know Floyd as the man behind the number. He was full of character, decency, and integrity. He was always gracious with his time with fans — parents and grandparents who wanted to introduce their children and grandchildren to a genuine role model,” Biden added. “I was one of them. My family got to know Floyd. We’d call each other after Syracuse games and to check in on one another. I remember our call when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the joy in his voice. And I remember the more recent call when he shared his cancer diagnosis, and how fearless he was in his conviction to fight it. As with everything else he did in life, Floyd lived to the very end with grit and heart, and love for his family and faith in God.”

Biden added that he will miss his “friend,” who he called “a good man.”

1. Duranice Pace, gospel singer, 62

2020 Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Service Source:Getty

Pace, 62, was the eldest sister of “The Annointed Pace Sisters,” which consisted of Duranice, June Pace–Martin, Melonda Pace, Dejuaii Pace, Leslie Pace, Latrice Pace and Lydia Pace. The Atlanta-based group helped catapult the city into the mainstream as a musical landmark in the south. The Pace Sisters recorded a total of seven albums together including chart toppers, “U-Know,” “Access Granted,” “My Purpose” and “Return.” On social media her fans and supporters continue to reflect on the musical legacy she left behind.

2. Tim Lester, NFL star, 52

Steelers Tim Lester Source:Getty

Tim Lester, a former NFL star who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Rams, and Dallas Cowboys, died on Jan. 12 from COVID-19 complications. He was 52. After his almost decade long career in the NFL, he dedicated his life to coaching and philanthropy efforts in Milton, Georgia.

3. Bryan Monroe, former NABJ president, 55

International Women's Media Foundation's 2019 Annual Courage In Journalism Awards Source:Getty

Monroe died from a heart attack at age 55 on Jan. 13. He served as president of the NABJ from 2005-2007. Monroe was a chair at Verizon and taught in the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University in Philadelphia. During his career in the news Monroe also worked as an editor for CNN’s political site and accrued acclaim for his leadership at the Biloxi Sun Herald during Hurricane Katrina. Following, the outlet won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage.

4. Meredith C. Anding Jr., civil rights icon, 79

Meredith C. Anding Jr., a civil rights icon who as a member of the “Tougaloo Nine” was arrested for entering a “whites only” library in 1961, has died. Anding was 79 years old. The cause of death was complications from leukemia.

The Associated Press reported: “The Tougaloo Nine were students at the historically Black institution Tougaloo College who staged a peaceful sit-in at Jackson’s white-only library on March, 27, 1961. It is widely considered the first student protest of segregation at a public institution in Mississippi.”

5. Eric Jerome Dickey, best-selling author, 59

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books Source:Getty

Dickey left a career as a software engineer to pursue his art and worked diligently at his craft for years writing poetry, comedy, and scripts until he published his first novel “Sister, Sister” in 1996.” Over the course of his career Dickey published 29 novels and was honored as a New York Times best-selling author.  He also earned a series of NAACP Image Awards, the 2006 Best Contemporary Fiction and Author of The Year, and Storyteller of the Year in 2008 at the 1st Annual Essence Literary Awards.

6. Floyd Little, football legend, 78

Denver Broncos v New York Jets Source:Getty

College and professional football star Floyd Little died on New Year’s Day. He was 78 years old and died following a brief battle with cancer. In 1964, Little chose to attend Syracuse University, where he was a three-time all-American. That collegiate stardom paved Little’s way to star in the then-AFL for the Denver Broncos, a team that later became part of the larger group of professional football franchises popularly known as the NFL. Speaking of “franchise,” that became Little’s nickname on the Broncos as he went on to set several rushing marks.

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