Ernest Lee Black, a longtime Sacramento resident and general contractor who built many homes in the Del Paso Heights neighborhood, died Saturday of cancer, his family said. He was 88.
Mr. Black worked his way up from a laborer to become one of Sacramento's earliest licensed African American general contractors in 1970. He started building federally subsidized homes for the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency and went on to build custom homes in Del Paso Heights and West Sacramento.
He previously was a foreman and job superintendent for Taylor & Mazza and helped construct more than 1,000 homes and a 38-unit apartment complex in the Sacramento region. He also built the Del Paso Heights home where he and his wife of 66 years, Marie, lived since 1951.
"He built a lot of houses in the neighborhood," longtime neighbor Josephine Burnett said. "There were a lot of builders, but people wanted him because they knew he did a good job."
Mr. Black started working in construction in Muskogee, Okla., where he was born June 10, 1923. He moved to Pasadena in 1948 and joined the Carpenters Union in 1950. He retired in 1985.
He was a longtime member of Macedonia Baptist Church in Sacramento.
Besides his wife, survivors include his daughter, Benita White of North Highlands; brother, Curtis Black of Kansas, Okla.; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at Morgan Jones Chapel of Chimes, 4200 Broadway, Sacramento. A funeral is set for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Macedonia Baptist Church, 700 Benton Ave., Sacramento.
Robert D. Dávila
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