Sidney Poitier‘s family is holding a private memorial service for the actor following his death earlier this month. In a statement to PEOPLE, the family cited the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for keeping the service private, but noted that there may be a more public event in the future.
“The Poitier family so appreciates the wonderful outpouring of love, support and affection for Sidney,” the statement reads. “There have been many inquiries about an event to honor his life. At this time, due to the coronavirus pandemic, a private memorial service has been arranged for the family with the possibility of a more public memorial service should the virus’ numbers subside in the near future.
“In lieu of flowers, those wishing to honor him are encouraged to donate to some of his favorite organizations and charities including The Children’s Defense Fund, The United Negro College Fund, and the Alzheimer’s Association,” the family added.
Tributes memorializing the trailblazing star poured in from celebrities everywhere upon news of his death. Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Halle Berry, Will Smith and Barack Obama were among the many people who issued statements about the impact Poitier had on their lives. One of his daughters, Sydney, also paid tribute to her late dad in an emotional statement posted to Instagram.
“There are no words for this. No real way to prepare for this. No prose beautiful enough, no speech eloquent enough to capture the essence of my dad,” she wrote in part, adding that his accomplishments “quite literally changed the landscape for everyone who came after him.
“We thought we were taking care of him. I see now that the truth is he was still taking care of us,” she later added, describing his last few years. “He was reminding us, particularly in these uncertain times, of the power of GOODNESS. That even when the body is fading and things seem to be falling apart around us, the goodness remains.
In other news – #RIPPatrickShai: Funeral details for the legendary actor revealed
A memorial service for veteran actor Patrick Shai will be held at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg on Thursday.
In addition, his funeral is expected to take place on Saturday. Learn more