Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space as well as the youngest American in space, founder of Sally Ride Science, a nationally ranked tennis player in college, and a lesbian, died today after a seventeen-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Dr. Ride was 61. She is survived by her partner of 27 years, Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy, who is also the COO and Executive Vice President of Sally Ride Science and a Professor Emerita of School Psychology at San Diego State University, along with her mother, Joyce and sister, Bear.
Sally Kristen Ride, Ph.D., earned her master’s degree and a Ph.D. in physics, went to NASA in 1978 after responding to a newspaper ad, left in 1987 for Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control.
She was especially interested in inspiring girls to embrace science, and she was a climate change activist. Dr. Ride endorsed Barack Obama in 2008.
In an article at Sally Ride Science — “an innovative science education company dedicated to supporting girls’ and boys’ interests in science, math and technology” – the organization she founded in 2001, describes her early relationship with O’Shaughnessy:
“Sally Ride and Tam O’Shaughnessy became friends at the age of 12 when they both played tennis. While their lives took different paths, they stayed in contact over the years. Ride went to Stanford University, earned a BS, an MS, and a PhD in physics, and became the first American woman to fly in space; O’Shaughnessy became a professional tennis player and later earned a BS and an MS in biology from Georgia State University and a PhD in school psychology from the University of California–Riverside. Not only have the two remained good friends but they are also coauthors of several science books for children…”
Editor’s note: To be as accurate and as humanly fair as possible to an American hero and icon, Sally Ride never came out publicly, nor did she ever publicly state she was a lesbian. Her officially obituary released by Sally Ride Science states she was in a 27-year relationship with Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy, a woman.
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