Leroy Cumbie, 78, of Fernandina Beach passed away Monday, March 16, 2020 at San Jose Health Rehabilitation in Jacksonville.
Born in Jacksonville, Leroy was a son of the late Marvin and Betty Barnhart Cumbie.
Leroy graduated from Ribault High School in Jacksonville. After high school Leroy begin work for WAPE radio as a reporter. He also worked a free lance photographer. Leroy covered many significant news events during the late 1950’s and 1960’s. Whether reporting on a parade, a riot or a traffic crash, Leroy seemed to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He was eating at a nearby diner at the time of the Roosevelt Hotel fire. He saw smoke coming from the building and was the first person to get to the hotel. He was instrumental in helping some of the occupants escape the building.
After changes with WAPE, Leroy began to work for WQIK. Later, changes in the news business led him away from radio. Leroy begin a career that would be much of his life for years to come. He worked with some of the funeral homes in the Jacksonville area. At Corey-Kerlin Funeral Homes and Hardage-Giddens Funeral Homes he was able to help families at a low point in their lives. Assisting on funeral services, going on out of town trips and sometimes scheduling staff and automotive resources to insure families were well served, Leroy worked in many aspects of funeral service. In addition to his work at area funeral homes, Leroy also served as driver for Dana’s Limousine Service. Even in retirement Leroy continued to assist, on a part time basis, Giddens-Reed and Naugle Funeral Homes.
A few years ago, Leroy moved to Fernandina Beach and was associated with Oxley-Heard Funeral Directors. He lived in the apartment above the funeral home and was available to answer the phone and door after hours. Leroy would also avail himself to out of town trips for funeral services across the southeast.
After moving to Fernandina Beach Leroy became a fixture of the community as he continued his love of photography. Photographing events such as parades and music performances, wildlife at Ft. Clinch or other community activities Leroy became recognized about town as the man with the camera. Besides photography his other passion was Bluegrass music. He often combined the two as he would travel to listen to his favorite groups, take pictures and record the event.
He leaves behind his children, Dana Gast of Fitzgerald, GA, Vikki (Timmy) Reed of McIntosh, AL, Valerie (Steven) Brock of Jacksonville and Jolene (Steven) Bates of Lewisburg, TN; his siblings, Jimmie (Marsha) Cumbie, Sharon Palmer and Pam (Ray) Bedenbaugh, all of Jacksonville; 10 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.
Graveside funeral services will be held Thursday, March 19, 2020 at 2:00 PM at Mandarin Cemetery. The family will receive friends beginning at 1:30 PM.