Bear Ride, Dr. Sally Ride's sister, has
described Sally Ride's partner Tam O'Shaughnessy as a member of the
Sally Ride, the first American woman in
space, passed away Monday at the age of 61 after losing a prolonged
17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. She also held the
distinction of being the youngest American in space.
Among those listed as survivors in
Ride's obituary was O'Shaughnessy, who became romantically involved
with Ride in 1985, just two years after she made history as the first
American female in space aboard the NASA space shuttle Challenger.
Ride, often described as a private
person, had not previously publicly discussed the relationship.
“We consider Tam a member of the
family,” Bear Ride, Ride's sister, told BuzzFeed.com.
“People did not know she had
pancreatic cancer, that's going to be a huge shock,” Bear Ride
“I hope [Sally Ride's coming out]
makes it easier for kids growing up gay that they know that another
one of their heroes was like them,” she added.
O'Shaughnessy is the executive vice
president of Sally Ride Science, which is dedicated to supporting
young students' interest in science, math and technology.