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Sylvia Woods Funeral service for the late Sylvia Woods will be held 11:00 A.M on Sat-urday, July 28, 2012, at Jeremiah UM Church in Hemingway, SC. Interment will follow in the Devotional Memorial Gardens in Hemingway, SC directed by Nesmith-Pinckney Funeral Home, Inc. Sylvia Woods, founder of the famed Harlem soul food restaurant that carries her name and was a must-stop for locals, tourists and politicians, has died. She was 86. Woods died Thursday afternoon at her home in Mount Vernon, N.Y., said her granddaughter Tren'ness Woods-Black. She had been dealing with Alzheimer's disease for the past few years. Woods and her husband Herbert, natives of South Carolina who met as children, started Sylvia's Restaurant in 1962. The restaurant became a Harlem fixture, with tourists and locals coming there for cornbread, ribs, collard greens, fried chicken and other staples of Southern cooking. Politicians made frequent visits while on the campaign trail. After the death of her husband in 2001, Sylvia once again turned to her faith for renewed empowerment. Growing up in a strong Christian home, she came to know God as a young child. She was a firm believer in the notion that no matter what the adversity, God would see you through. It was a value and belief system she passed down to her children and grandchildren. Sylvia was a member of Abyssinian Baptist Church for many years, and later joined Grace Baptist Church as is was more convenient for her to attend there. She was instrumental in the construction of her home church, Jeremiah Methodist, in Hemingway. One of those politicians, Rep. Charles Rangel, said he celebrated his recent victory in the Democratic primary for Congress at the restaurant, which is in his district and which he described as "a magical place that brought the community together." "Ms. Sylvia created a special place on Lenox and 127th street. Sylvia's may have been famous nationally and internationally, but its soul has always remained in Harlem," she said. "Nothing can replace its founder, but her legacy will live on in the memories she helped make." Rev. Al Sharpton said Sylvia's was "more than a restaurant, it has been a meeting place for Black America." He said he had dined there with many famous faces including President Barack Obama and Caroline Kennedy. Mayor Michael Bloom-berg said, "We lost a legend today. For more than 50 years, New Yorkers have enjoyed Sylvia's and visitors have flocked to Harlem to get a table. In her words, the food was made with 'a whole lot of love' and generations of family and friends have come together at what became a New York institution." From its start as a restaurant, Sylvia's has grown to include multiple cook-books and a nationwide line of food products. Woods-Black said the restaurant, marking its 50th anniversary in August, is more than just a place to eat, that it's a place where her grandmother could express her hospitality, a tradition that following generations have maintained. "If you come alone, you're never going to dine alone," she said. Woods-Black said her grandmother had officially stepped down from running the restaurant when she was 80, leaving it in the hands of her children and grandchildren. She is survived by her four children, Van (Brenda Woods), Bedelia, Kenneth (Sylvia Woods), and Crizette; one step-daughter, Linda Woods; 18 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; two great great-grandchildren; two special cousins, Christine Cameron and Janie Cooper; one sister-in-law, Evelyn Woods; a host of loving nieces, nephews, cousins, and a nation that will forever be indebted to a woman who reminded us to never lose sight of the key ingredient for any success-Lots of LovePlenty of Soul.

This obituary was originally published in the Morning News (Florence, SC).
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Published online on 7/27/2012 courtesy of Morning News (Florence, SC).

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May 11, 2014
may she rest in peace.
Bernadette Henegain (Newburgh, NY)

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