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News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. July 27, 2012: Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem became an international institution because of one woman and her soul food. On July 24th, Sylvia Woods was laid to rest in New York after a moving ceremony in Harlem that included tributes from former President, Bill Clinton.

Woods died last week at age 86 after dealing with Alzheimer’s disease for the past few years. On Tuesday, mourners filed past an open casket. Woods was laid out in a cream-colored brocade suit. The altar was adorned with white flowers: roses, orchids and calla lilies.

Woods and her husband, Herbert, natives of South Carolina who met as children, started Sylvia’s in 1962. The restaurant is a Harlem fixture, with tourists and locals going there for cornbread, ribs, collard greens, fried chicken and other staples of Southern cooking and politicians including President Barack Obama making frequent visits while on the campaign trail.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised Woods’ dedication to supporting the community through charitable work.

“That’s the Sylvia we’ll remember, and though they called her the Queen of Soul Food, it was her warmth, her grace and her generosity that truly made her royalty,” Bloomberg said.

Former Mayor David Dinkins said Sylvia’s Restaurant “is more than a business; it is a testament to our tradition, a comfort zone, a home away from home.” He said her customers also were her neighbors “who needed a place to celebrate special occasions or simply a place to enjoy friends over a great meal.”

He called Woods “a friend, a mother, a grandmother, a matriarch of a community. She put her soul in the soul food.” (Sharon Bennett images)

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