Irving Sanchez, Jr.: Funeral director

Undoubtedly, many have heard the tales of how over 100 businesses along the Deuces (22nd Street Corridor) contributed to the area being one of our city’s most vibrant and highly successful sectors during its heyday. Irving Sanchez, Jr. owned and operated one such business called Sanchez Arch Royal Funeral Home.

Sanchez’s aunt, Jessie Marie Calhoun, purchased the Williams Funeral home on Ninth Avenue and 22nd Street South. Sanchez, Jr. took over the business in the 1950s as it was known as Arch Royal Funeral Home.

During staunch segregation loaded with restrictions, cemeteries were not readily available to African Americans. Just about all African-American burials were directed to Lincoln Cemetery.

Irving Sanchez III said that there weren’t much “mixing” along racial lines during his father’s tenure regarding the preparations and services. But his father did quality work, including those who perished in car accidents, fires or succumbed to the ravages of cancer. Many funeral homes, even ones owned and operated by white people, called on his father for his restorative expertise.

Sanchez, Jr. often assisted families who struggled to handle the financial obligations of a funeral.

We honor a life well lived — a St. Pete legend.

This article was part of the 28 days of Black history heard on WUJM – 99.1 FM.

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