Florida's first female founding publisher laid to rest

Founder of Jacksonville Free Press dies at 80

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida's first female founding publisher has died at the age of 80. Rita Carter Perry passed quietly and unexpectedly on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 9:15 p.m.

Rita Carter Perry was the founder and publisher of The Jacksonville Free Press. The newspaper was first printed in 1986 as a response to the community's plea for more positive stories by African-Americans about their neighborhoods and their culture.

The Jacksonville Free Press is circulated in the tri-county area and southeast Georgia. The weekly publication delivers local, state and national news to its readers from a positive perspective of the Black experience in America. This was Perry's most prominent accomplishment. She declared it to be Northeast Florida's quality media.

Her career spanned 45 years in Jacksonville. Prior to that, she grew up in Detroit, Michigan where she acquired a job with Motown as a creative writer and even worked in artist management.

Once she moved to Jacksonville, she began blazing trails in radio and journalism. She worked as a general manager for various local radio stations and wrote for local publications in Florida and Georgia. Perry lived a life of social activism, engagement and advocacy. She was a board member of the Clara White Mission, the YMCA and the NAACP, just to name a few.

Throughout her career Perry has been recognized for her professional excellence. In 2013, she was given the Mayor's Trailblazer award, and she was a recipient of the MLK Foundation award for exceptional service in the African-American community.

Perry is survived by her daughter, Sylvia Perry, who worked by her side at the Jacksonville Free Press. She remembers her mother's philosophy in life by these words: "Work for what you want, pay for what you need and treat everyone as you want to be treated."

Rita Carter Perry was a member of Greater Macedonia Baptist Church. Her funeral services were held there on Saturday, Sept. 22.