Wanda Denise Distance, a former nurse and celebrity hairstylist, died of complications of COVID-19 Oct. 13 at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. The Baltimore resident was 54.
Ms. Wanda Denise Distance was the daughter of the late Emmaline Distance, a former barmaid and chef, and Norman Distance-Bey, a former MTA bus driver. She was born in Baltimore and was raised in the city’s Waverly neighborhood.
She attended Edmondson-Westside High School. In 1984, she earned a GED and later in her early 20s graduated from Dudley Beauty College for cosmetology in the mid-90s. In 2018, she earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Baltimore.
Ms. Distance owned the hair salon Pretty 1 Blessed in Edgewood. Plans are to convert the salon into a boutique. She worked as a hairstylist for many years, including celebrity clients BernNadette Stanis, who played Thelma Evans on ‘Good Times,’ and Ralph Tresvant from the R&B group New Edition.
“My mom was a lot of things – she was funny, very strong and resilient. She forgave everyone. She was a woman of faith, always praying and kept us in church,” daughter Vontura Eley, of East Baltimore County, said.
Vontura is a graphic designer and has a custom jewelry brand named Wasted By Vonnie. She said her mom was her best friend and invested in her business.
Her mom was a traveling nurse, who worked contract jobs, including nursing homes. Vontura believes her mom, who was not vaccinated, caught COVID-19 at work.
Ms. Distance was hospitalized on Sept. 26 and died on Oct. 13, which is Vontura’s birthday. “It happened so fast. Saturday is gonna be a lot for us. We’re just gonna prepare ourselves,” she said.
Aside from work, Ms. Distance enjoyed celebrity gossip, shopping, traveling and cheering for the Ravens.
Desha Bedford, Ms. Distance’s friend and hairstylist for many years, said Ms. Distance had a soothing voice that put Bedford to sleep while she was being worked on in the salon. Over the years, their friendship grew, Bedford said.
“The biggest thing I miss about Wanda is that we could talk about anything, including children and marriage. Not only she was therapy for my hair, she was therapy for my soul,” Bedford said.
Ms. Distance never married.
She frequented Bethel A.M.E Church. A public memorial service and a repast will be held at noon on Saturday at Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home, located at 6500 York Road in Baltimore.
In addition to Vontura Eley, Ms. Distance is survived by her father Norman Distance-Bey, of Baltimore City; her daughter Gabrielle Tyson of Brooklyn, New York; her sons, George Eley III, Justin and Jerran Tyson, all of East Baltimore County; her sisters, Brittany Distance; Wendy Distance-Flowers and Michelle Distance-Stallings, both of Baltimore County; her brothers Craig Lofton and Butchie Distance, of Baltimore City; four nieces and one nephew.