Just before Clarence Eckridge retired from the General Motors Chevrolet Engine plant in the Town of Tonawanda in 1981, he followed his dream and embarked on a venture that saw him operating a variety of small businesses on Buffalo's East Side through the late 1990s.
He died Sunday in the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care, Cheektowaga. He was 79.
Born in Detroit, he moved to Buffalo in 1953 after serving in the Army during the Korean War. Shortly thereafter, he went to work for the Chevrolet plant, where he remained for 25 years.
In retirement, Mr. Eckridge embarked on what his family referred to as the "entrepreneurial phase of his career." From 1980 to 1982, he operated a construction company that remodeled homes. From 1982 to 1986, he rode the video rental boom as owner of Video Game Center on Genesee Street.
Mr. Eckridge operated C&G Outlet, a men's and women's clothing store on Broadway from 1987 to 1992 and Pop's Auto Shop on Genesee Street from 1996 to 1999.
He is survived by his wife of 37 years, the former Judean Wyatt; three daughters, Dorothy Hunter, Claudette Odeyale-Midolo and Valerie; three sons, Clarence, John and Tremaine; and three sisters, Rose Ayler, Amanda Griffin and Gladys Hawkins.
His funeral will be at noon today in True Bethel Baptist Church, 472 Swan St.