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Rev. Herman C. McCray

RIVIERA BEACH - Rev. Herman C. McCray, civil rights leader and founder of McCray's Backyard BBQ, died today at West Palm Hospital. The Riviera Beach resident and 1959 graduate of Roosevelt High School was 72.

"He was always very active. He always had to be a part of everything. He was always busy," said Malcomb Stubbs, who taught physics and chemistry at Roosevelt High while Rev. McCray was a student.

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Rev. McCray was an assistant pastor at Greater Bethel Primitive Baptist Church in Riviera Beach. He was also a former supervisor of sanitation for Riviera Beach.

Rev. McCray never tired of reminding city officials who they were working for, Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas Masters said.

"He often told us if we do not carry out the will of the people, the people can remove us from office," Masters said.

Rev. McCray unsuccessfully worked to prevent the closing of Roosevelt High School in 1970, when Roosevelt became a middle school. Roosevelt High school students attended Palm Beach High School, which was renamed Twin Lakes High School, said fellow Roosevelt High School student and friend Norman Walker.

"(Rev. McCray) was a good talker. He was also a good listener. He was very observant. Regardless of the circumstrances, he wanted everyone treated equally," said Walker, who is a former principal at U.B. Kinsey/Palmview Elementary School.

The bridge on Congress Avenue that connects Riviera Beach to West Palm Beach was dedicated in 2010 to Rev. McCray. His son Derrick operates McCray's Backyard BBQ near Belevedere Road and Military Trail.

Rev. McCray is survived by his wife, Lillian McCray a retired Palm Beach County School teacher; three sons, Derrick McCray, Sr., Demetrius McCray and Herman McCray, III and a sister Cynthia Morrow. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Published in The Palm Beach Post from Apr. 17 to May 16, 2013
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