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Barrier-Breaking Astronaut Interred at Santa Monica’s Woodlawn Cemetery

 

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

August 8, 2012 -- Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly into space, was interred at Santa Monica’s Woodlawn Cemetery Monday.

The astronaut’s ashes were interred next to her father -- former Santa Monica College political science professor Dale Ride -- in a small, private ceremony from 3 to 4 p.m., cemetery officials said.

“Santa Monica is honored to be the final resting place of Dr. Sally Ride,” said Mayor Richard Bloom. “She inspired millions as the first American woman astronaut.”

“To me, Sally Ride is a true American hero," said Acting Cemetery Administrator Benjamin Steers. "The City is honored that her family chose Woodlawn as her final resting location.

Steers, whose uncle works for NASA, has been collecting shuttle patches since the first space shuttle mission, he said.

“It was really meaningful for me to be included in placing the urn into the vault,” Steers said, adding that the ceremony was attended by a small group of close friends and family, including Ride's mother, Joyce Ride. “It was truly a very nice, respectful service.”

Bloom said that he didn’t find out about the service until Tuesday morning because the family had requested that it be a private affair.

“It was very important for the City to respect the wishes of the family to have a private ceremony,” Bloom said.

Ride, who died of pancreatic cancer on July 23 at the age of 61, made her historic flight into space when she was 32 years old.

She joined NASA in 1978 when she answered a newspaper ad for astronauts. At the time, she already held degrees in physics and astrophysics.

On June 18, 1983, she became the first American woman in space when she flew aboard the space shuttle Challenger.

After the 1986 disaster in which Challenger exploded minutes after takeoff, Ride was appointed to the committee that investigated the accident.

In 1987, Ride went on to teach at Stanford University and eventually became a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego.

In 2001, she founded Sally Ride Science, a company that creates learning materials and educational programs -- for teachers and students -- designed to cultivate interest in math, science and engineering.

“A key part of our corporate mission is to make a difference in girls' lives, and in society's perceptions of their roles in technical fields,” according to the company’s website.

Education was a value that ran in the Ride family.

In 1991, SMC -- in collaboration with Joyce Ride -- created the Dale Ride Scholarship Program, designed to send student interns to Washington D.C. to commemorate Dale’s 33 years of work for the college.

Frank Gruber for Santa Monica City Council

 

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