“Many people knew my father as a politician, community leader and entrepreneur, but today I’m writing about and remembering Herbert Bellamy, Sr., as the strong Africa American single father and my family’s provider, who gifted me with an education as well as important life lessons,” wrote his son John W. Bellamy in a tribute to his dad.
Herbert Bellamy was born on April 23, 1931 in Burgaw, North Carolina, one of 12 children in a family of sharecroppers. “His parents taught him basic principles that he would later follow like a religion,” John continued.
Mr. Bellamy, armed with a solid work ethic and deep understanding of the workings of racial realities in America, went on to accomplish great things. After graduating from high school and serving as a Marine in the Korean War he moved to Western New York where he met and married Irene Bellamy. He worked a few years in manufacturing, before ultimately becoming the sole owner of Bellamy’s Liquor store in the heart of the Black community.
“Bellamy’s Liquor Store invested in and supported the growth of many businesses and nonprofits in the Coldspring neighborhood,” his son recalled. “This generated innumerable jobs.”
Mr. Bellamy also founded 1490 Enterprises Inc., a not-for-profit community center taking a blighted inner city warehouse and turning an eyesore into an oasis for the entire community and a gathering point for senior citizens. He founded the Black Achievers In Industry Awards event; was the first city’s first Black Civil Service Commissioner and served as a Councilman-at-large for nine years.
When John was 8 tragedy struck when his beloved mother Irene, passed away. But despite Mr. Bellamy’s community responsibilities and having to work long hours, he rose to the occasion.
“With help from our family and friends, he undertook his next challenge – to raise me as a single father. Somehow he made it work.”
“Not everyone is lucky enough to have a strong father figure in their life,” continued John. “His success came from hard work and discipline but he was forward-thinking and generous when it came to his community….When I was a child and wanted ice-cream, my father always made sure we got it from one of the only remaining Black-owned businesses in our area. He saw spirit in our streets, in our people, and in our future.”
“The Next time you see an abandoned building, try picturing a Black-owned deli or a hardware store or a dance studio,” he concluded. “Imagine what Herbert Bellamy Sr. might see!”
(John W. Bellamy is the owner of International Wine & Spirits located at 2580 Main Street where his late father is being honored with discounts on selected brands now through April 28. He also announced that next year he will be launching a wine portfolio that will be dedicated to his dad. Mr. Herbert Bellamy made his transition March 8, 2006. )