Sidney Abbott and Barbara Love wrote “Sappho Was a Right On Woman”
Apr 15, 2015
The woman who died tragically in a house fire in Southold this morning was a well-known figure in the feminist movement who left a rich legacy.
Although police have not yet officially released the victim’s identity, multiple sources, including friends, her pastor, and Southold Fire Chief Peggy Killian confirmed that the woman, who was wheelchair-dependent and who lost her life was Sidney Abbott, 77, a world-renowned crusader in the women’s movement and co-author of “Sappho Was a Right-on Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism”; the book was written with Barbara Love in 1971.
According to the Southold Fire Department, the fire broke out at 435 Willow Pond Lane, Abbott’s home, at approximately 10:45 a.m. Wednesday.
The Southold Town Police dispatch center was advised of a house fire at the above location by a private fire alarm company.
Killian said former Southold Fire Chief George Berry, Abbott’s next-door neighbor, tried valiantly to enter the house to save Abbott, who was home alone; he was “turned back by flames and heavy smoke,” a release from the Southold Police Department said.
Once fire department personnel entered the home, they found the female occupant of the house on the first floor; Killian said she was found in the living room, sitting in a recliner, a wheelchair nearby. Abbott had a home health aide who had already left for the day, Killian said.
Her dog, Killian said, was at the kennel and survived the blaze; a cat’s body was found at the scene.
Southold detectives, Suffolk County arson and homicide squads and the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office are all investigating the fire. Greenport and Cutchogue Fire Departments also responded to assist.