Ronald Jerome Alford, aka Sheri Powers, 62, died peacefully at his Oklahoma City home on Jan. 26, surrounded by his beloved dogs and friends. Alford had lived with HIV since the mid-1980s and was one of the top 100 survivors in the world as far as length of time living with the disease.
Alford suffered a stroke in November 2009 and never fully recovered. The stroke forced him into retiring from his career in female impersonation, which he dearly loved and enjoyed.
Alford was a cosmetologist in Dallas for more than 35 years, retiring from that field shortly before moving to Oklahoma City.
Alford was an entertainer, a friend, an artist and one of the most fair, honest people you would ever meet. He was elegant and classy both as a man and a woman, and paved the way for many of the female impersonation stars today. Alford began his career as Sheri Powers in straight bars with often rambunctious, rowdy and even dangerous crowds. He also owned two nighclubs in the Dallas area: La Folles, which was a La Cage-style "tourist bar" in the entertainment district, and The Power Company, a classic show bar on Fitzugh Avenue.
Alford also owned several pageants throughout the years, including Miss Gay Globe, Miss Gay Universe and Mr. Gay Dallas. He held many titles throughout his career as entertainer Sheri Powers, including "The Silver Anniversary Miss Gay Dallas," the one of which he was most proud. His other titles included, but were not limited to, Miss Gay South, Miss Gay Angles, Miss Gay Arlington, Miss Gay Copa, Miss Gay Universe, Miss Gay Bamboleo’s and Miss Gay Tramps. He was also first alternate to Miss Gay Texas and Miss Gay Oklahoma, and placed in the top 10 at the Miss Gay America pageant on numerous occasions.
Alford, as Sheri, was the honorary grand marshall twice in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, and was is Empress II, VII, XI and XVII in the United Court of the Lone Star Empire.
Alford never said no when it came to charity events, donating countless hours of his time to help those who were suffering with HIV and AIDS. He also was instrumental in the grassroots start of the church known now as the Cathedral of Hope and hosted countless benefit shows through the years to raise money for the church.
Alford was an impeccable seamstress and was well known for his elegant and classy evening gown designs. He made most of Sheri’s "drag" clothes from scratch and did all of his own hair and makeup. And Alford was known to style wigs and help the other entertainers, even in pageants when Sheri was competing against them.
Alford was generous and trusting to a fault and his passing leaves a void in the hearts and souls of so many.
Alford is survived by his companion of 16 years, Mark D. Manning, Ronnie Alford at The Cove in Dallas, and by one sister. He will be cremated and his remains will be placed in an urn between his mother and father in Mississippi, where the family is originally from.
Jonathan Pool "Jon" Alston, 47, died Jan. 10 at St. Catherine’s in Waco following a brief battle with cancer.
Alston was proud fifth generation Texan, born Sept. 28, 1962 in Marlin, to William Adrian and Frances Pool Alston. He was the youngest of seven children, and attended schools in Marlin before attending Texas State Technical College. He had a successful career as a business analyst in Dallas for many years, and had recently returned to school to fulfill his lifelong dream of working in the aviation industry.
Alston was obsessed with airplanes from a very early age and was an avid pilot. His passion was flying his vintage Bonanza airplane with family and friends. He was also a talented carpenter and artist.
His zest for life, intelligent conversation and unwavering sense of humor touched all who knew him, and he will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him.
Alston was preceded in death by his parents and one brother, Robert Jack Alston.
He is survived by his companion, Jay Frederick; his siblings, William A. Alston Jr. and wife Mary, Edward Keith Alston and wife Beth, Kevin Grant Alston, Kimberly Ann Alston Kleypas and husband Wayne and Laura Lisa Alston; and by 13 nieces and nephews.
Alston chose to be cremated, and his ashes were scattered in places close to his heart. A celebration of his life was held Jan. 23 in Hangar 109 at the Lancaster Airport with his beloved plane. A second service was held Jan. 24 at the First United Methodist Church in Marlin.
Memorials may be sent to Providence Foundation, Agape Fund, 6901 Medical Parkway, Waco, Texas 76712.
Daniel Rodriguez, 51, died Jan. 22, surrounded by his friends and loved ones.
He was born Feb. 6, 1958 and was a cheerleader at David W. Carter High School in Dallas. He went on to become a well-loved and respected hair stylist and salon owner.
Rodriguez loved people, laughter, music, dancing and dogs. His free spirit and loving energy will always be felt by those he left behind.
Rodriguez was preceded in death by his parents, Alfonso and Mary Fuentes Rodriguez. He is survived by his life partner Tony Brinson; his sister Dina and her partner Cathy; his closest friend of 30 years Bert Hetzel; his business partner Scott Roe; and his aunt and cousins.
A memorial service was held Jan. 28 at Metrocrest Funeral Home in Carrollton. Donations in his name may be made to the charity of one’s choice.
James Duane "Jim" Ralston, 54, died Jan. 18, at his home in Dallas.
He was born July 1, 1956 in Kittanning, Pa., to Beverly Joyce Ralston and William John Ralston. He graduated from Kittanning Senior High and then from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pa.
Ralston worked as the assistant director of the Tax Mapping Department for Armstrong County, Pa., from 1978 to 1982. From 1982 to 1983, he was a building operations systems services operator for Honeywell in Dallas, and from 1983 until his retirement in 2007, he was a senior financial systems software analyst for JC Penney in Dallas.
Ralston lived life with deliberate intention and vigor. He lived fully and had a wide spectrum of knowledge and experiences. He was insightful, generous, passionate, respectful and intelligent. He had many interests and favorite pastimes and put a premium on time spent with friends, John, Drew, Jim, Paul and especially Richard over coffee discussing all topics with depth, detail and usually an extra dry wit that went well with his fondness for dry martinis.
He is survived by his sister-in-law, Gwendolyn Ann Ralston, and his nephew, Elliott Ralston, both of Hilliards, Pa.
In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund Inc., GDMAF.org.
A gathering of friends will be held Saturday, Jan. 30, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the upstairs patio at JR.’s, 3923 Cedar Springs Road.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 29, 2010.