RIVIERA BEACH — Longtime Riviera Beach cab stand owner/operator and community activist Sadie Davis McCray died early Sunday of stomach cancer. She was 84.
Mrs. McCray had been diagnosed with stomach cancer in July and was under hospice care at home. She had been in failing health for months without telling anyone, relatives said. Family members became concerned and insisted that she seek medical attention after she had been unable to swallow solid foods.
Mrs. McCray was born in the rural North Florida Panhandle town of Hugh’s Creek, (Blountstown), which is about 50 miles west of Tallahassee. She and her husband, now deceased, moved to West Palm Beach in 1944.
Known by her gray hair, Mrs. McCray taxied many from Fort Pierce to Miami, often not getting reimbursed because her fares couldn’t pay. Her family said she told them she knew times were hard for everyone, and that she had to help others because someone had helped her and she knew God would take care of her.
She and her family moved from West Palm Beach to then George Street in Riviera Beach Heights in 1950.
Her neighbors say she ruled the street now known as Fifth Street and the park there affectionately called the Firehouse. She
encouraged children on their way to school or the bus stop to stay in school.
Those who grew up on Fifth Street during the ’60s and ’70s remember Mrs. McCray as a tough lady who didn’t mind telling them what they needed to hear or spanking them if she felt that was what they needed. Her children remember her telling them that a GED (General Education Diploma) was not good enough, that they would get a diploma or else.
Mrs. McCray was concerned about the appearance of her neighborhood. She got up early to make sure there was no debris in the street, told neighbors they needed to take care of their yards or paint their houses. She even mowed their lawns or paid someone to do it without telling them.
She also helped register residents to vote, offering free rides to the polls.
A wake is planned from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Inlet Grove Community High School, (former site of Suncoast High School), 600 W. 28th St., Riviera Beach.
A celebration of her life will be held at noon Saturday at Inlet Grove. There will also be a celebration of life and burial in Blountstown on Aug. 18.
Mrs. McCray’s survivors include her 10 children, Peter McCray, Emanuel McCray, Alfonso McCray, Veronica McCray, William McCray, Robert McCray, Nathaniel McCray, Jerry McCray, Luther McCray and Kathy McCray Kinsey; her sister, Dorothy Byrd Robinson of Mangonia Park; two brothers; 24 grandchildren; 25 great grandchildren; and one great-great grandchild.
Photo: Sadie Davis McCray