Longtime educator, politician passes away in Fort Worth

A Fort Worth World War II veteran is being remembered as a pioneer.

Reby Cary became the first black Fort Worth ISD trustee in 1974 and went on to the state House of Representatives.

Cary passed away last Friday at the age of 98. It’s that legacy that has helped shape communities and young people who have come after him, making him part of the history of Fort Worth.

“He was a fighter,” said friend Bob Ray Sanders. “And he fought up until the day he died.”

Civil rights was at the core of his purpose. He was an activist all his life.

“He hit the tape on the finish line. He was still sharp,” said friend Dee Jennings. “The last time I visited with him, he was talking about his book and other things. Contemporary things in politics. He was somewhat dismayed the African American community had not progressed further then it had.”

In 2010, Cary was still active and was serving the Fort Worth community. He was a teacher and became the first black man elected to the Fort Worth school board in 1974. Five years later, he was elected to the state legislature. He was also a World War II veteran.

“He came back home after fighting in a war and serving in the war. He was a radioman,” Sanders said. “He came back on a segregated train. He realized then he had a fight ahead of him.”

Cary was a prolific writer during the ladder part of his life. Those who knew him well say Cary wanted to leave signposts for the future.

“He was working on another book. He was still trying to tell the story because he felt whatever insight he could leave behind he wanted to leave that and it wasn’t for him,” Sanders said.

Friends say Cary made sure his voice was heard with a message that still resonates.

“Being a change agent creates lightning and sometimes thunder on you,” Jennings said. “He was a lightning rod for that lightning and thunder. Sometimes he received it, and sometimes he gave it.”

Friends say Cary was fearless and you never had to guess on where he stood on the issues.

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