She was the real thing. Nothing seemed to frighten her. When Bonita Spence made her transition, she still had plenty of gas left in her tank. But somewhere, the tank hit empty, and Spence was gone—just like that.

Shock is the only word I can think of to describe my reaction when I received a message from Gail Marquis that Spence had passed. Both Marquis and Spence were pioneers.

Spence was indeed a pioneer. So was her pal, Sandhi Ortiz-Del Valle. Together, they blazed trails for women in sports. We recall Ortiz, who was a great all-around athlete who we enjoyed watching play in the annual Easter volleyball tournaments at the J.H.S. 45 Wagner Youth and Adult Center in East Harlem.

We enjoyed watching Spence when she became an official in the WNBA. She loved to officiate. And she was among the best in the country. We always thought her height was against her when she tried to enter the NBA. No one ever said it was. But that would have capped her career if she had been able to join the league. Now she’s gone, but never to be forgotten. Once again, the guy at the top got the best of the deal.

Rest in peace, Bo.