Sonny Wright Archive Pic__ Miami Herald 2016
Sonny Wright
  • 81 years old
  • Date of birth: Jan 22, 1935
  • Place of birth:
    Swainsborough, Georgia, United States
  • Date of passing: Dec 12, 2016
  • Place of passing:
    Bowie, Maryland, United States
An ordinary man, who did extrodinary things

Viewing: Tuesday, 4-8PM, December 27, 2016.  Range Funeral Home 5727 NW 17th Avenue, Miami Florida. Phone 305-691-4343.

:  Wednesday,11AM, December 28, 2016 at Antioch Baptist Church, 21311 NW 34th Ave, Miami Gardens, FL 33056, Reverend, Author Jackson III, Pastor.  Range Funeral Home officiating. 

Interment:  Forrest Lawn Memorial Garden Central, 499 NW 27th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311, Phone: 954-581-9033.

:  Wednesday, December 28th, 2016. The Urban League of Broward County, Address560 NW 27th Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311 Time: 2:30 PM - 7:00 PM,   Phone(954) 584-0777.


”As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” Proverbs 23:7

Sonny Wright, 81, was born in Swainsboro, GA January 22, 1935 to parents Bessie Burley and Lindzey Wright.  His family later migrated to Brooklyn, New York when he was a young child.  While growing up in Brooklyn, Sonny showed great promise and leadership skills at an early age.  He was elected to serve as Cooper Junior High School’s student government president and upon graduation went on to attend the local high school.  Although he only had one course to complete, Sonny decided to leave and pursue a career with the United States Postal Service.  While working there for some time, he became very intrigued with the idea of travelling to Havana Cuba to explore the Afro-Cuban culture.  In the 1950’s, he left his coveted postal position in New York and travelled to Florida with a focus on Cuba.  After returning back to Florida with no job, no money and no plan, he decided to settle in Miami, Florida and began working odd jobs in the Overtown community to make ends meet.  It was during this time he became conscious of the disparity in Miami’s African American community and wanted to start a black-owned business as a means of infusing money into the black community.  He eventually made enough money to start Sonny’s Sportsman Luncheonette in Overtown and employed neighborhood kids to work the crowds on Sunday’s.  One of his most notable hires was a waitress – Veronise J. Strong – who was a recent graduate of Tuskegee University’s School of Nursing.  She later became his wife and partner for more than 50 years.

In the early 1960’s, Sonny transitioned out of the restaurant business after an encounter with a local real estate broker.  It was then that he was encouraged to acquire his real estate license and went on to complete the Cecilia Brooks School of Real Estate course in Miami Beach.  As a newly licensed sales associate, he began working for real estate brokers Howard Reigler and Judson Owens at their office on 4600 NW 7th Ave.  In 1965, he purchased the business from them and the building from Attorney Kaufman and went on to establish Universal Real Estate, Inc.  This business was a welcomed addition to a then transitioning community and thrived with as many as 28 licensed sales people.  In the 1970’s, Universal was featured in Black Enterprise Magazine as being 30th out of 100 top black-owned businesses in the United States grossing more than 5.9 million in annual sales.  Universal Real Estate, Inc. served the Liberty City Community for more than 50 years.

To further expand his vision, Sonny established a myriad of related companies to service all aspects of a real estate transaction, which he named after his children.  These businesses included Fort Lauderdale Investors which he used to acquire more than 640 acres of land near Disney in Orlando, Florida.  The land was subdivided and sold to investors in parcels throughout the United States and as far as Hong Kong.  John David Development, Corporation – named after his son- was used to build 24 homes in Opa Locka, Florida as part of an affordable housing initiative.  Adrian Loan, Inc. – named after his daughter - was a financing vehicle used to assist first time home buyers with down payments. 

Sonny also served on many boards as a means of opening doors for future economic growth in Miami’s underserved communities.  His service included, but was not limited to, participation as a board member of the Urban League of Greater Miami, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, NAACP, Miami Board of Realtors (first black member), National Association of Real Estate Brokers, Miami Sports Authority, Jackson Memorial Hospital, Family Health Center, African Trade Development Center and also served as Chairman of the Florida Real Estate Commission, Trustee Emeritus for Florida International University, Founding Chairman for the Foundation for Democracy in Africa.

In 1983, at the height of his career, Sonny became the Founder, Chairman and CEO of People’s Bankshares, Inc. which purchased controlling interest in People’s National Bank of Commerce and became Florida’s first black-owned bank.  Sonny created South Florida News Week and was the former owner of the historic Carver Hotel in Overtown and the first African American to purchase a home on La Gorce Island in Miami Beach –now owned by Rap Artist Little Wayne. 

Although Sonny was a well accomplished businessman, he was best known by his friends and family as being a visionary, community activist and family man.  He was an ordinary man, who accomplished extraordinary things. 

After a courageous battle with cancer, Sonny passed December 12, 2016 at Doctor’s Community Hospital in Lanham, Maryland.  He will undoubtedly be missed by family, friends and colleagues. His siblings Ada Mae Paschal and Boisey Shoemake preceded him.  He leaves behind his cherished wife of 50 years Veronise J. Strong-Wright, son John David Wright, daughter’s Shinekqua L. Baines and Denise A. Wright-Webster, son-in law Phillip L. Webster II, grandchildren Bruce, Brintese and Brandden Thompson, Madison and Phillip L. Webster III, niece Tangular Y. Hopkins and a host of family members in Swainsboro, GA.

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Myrna Egbufoama on 13th December 2017

"Denise as you celebrate the one year anniversary of your dad passing, know that there is someone in Heaven all have recourse too."

This tribute was added by John Wright on 12th December 2017

"I love you dad. I pray that peace will continue to envelope your soul."

This tribute was added by Jacqueline Mesidor on 12th December 2017

"Continued prayers to the family of Mr. Sonny Wright. May God bless and keep you on his one year anniversary of his transition"

This tribute was added by HENDRICK POLANCO on 2nd February 2017

"My deepest condolences.  May these few words from the Holy Scriptures bring you comfort in your time of grief...
John 11:32-45
32 And so Mary, when she arrived where Jesus was and caught sight of him, fell at his feet, saying to him: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 Jesus, therefore, when he saw her weeping and the Jews that came with her weeping, groaned in the spirit and became troubled; 34 and he said: “Where have YOU laid him?” They said to him: “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus gave way to tears. 36 Therefore the Jews began to say: “See, what affection he used to have for him!” 37 But some of them said: “Was not this [man] that opened the eyes of the blind man able to prevent this one from dying?”
38 Hence Jesus, after groaning again within himself, came to the memorial tomb. It was, in fact, a cave, and a stone was lying against it.39 Jesus said: “TAKE the stone away.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to him: “Lord, by now he must smell, for it is four days.”40 Jesus said to her: “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” 41 Therefore they took the stone away. Now Jesus raised his eyes heavenward and said: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 True, I knew that you always hear me; but on account of the crowd standing around I spoke, in order that they might believe that you sent me forth.” 43 And when he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice: “Laz´a·rus, come on out!” 44The [man] that had been dead came out with his feet and hands bound with wrappings, and his countenance was bound about with a cloth. Jesus said to them: “Loose him and let him go.”
45 Therefore many of the Jews that had come to Mary and that beheld what he did put faith in him;
Please go to the following link for more information regarding the Hope expressed in this passage"

This tribute was added by Jacqueline Mesidor on 22nd January 2017

"I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Wright, John, Denise and Phillip on the loss of Mr. Sonny. May God keep you in this very difficult time and may he Rest In Peace. Blessings to you"

This tribute was added by Angela Wilson on 8th January 2017

"To:  Ms. Webster, Mrs. Wright and Family

Blessed Assurance,

When times get rough, just look toward the Lord.  At times, even staring, but nevertheless, by faith, not sight Just knowing he Always Care and is Always There for YOU.

Keeping the good memories a live and that everyone had the chance to share with your Father, Husband and Brother.  God blessed You with this experience and time with him.  Emotions are hard to suppress; so let the tears flow, Only your Smiles will show.

May God Always comfort you, your mother and family in reminiscing the Joyful Times with your beloved Father.  May Mr. Wright Rest In Peace."

This tribute was added by R. F., on 31st December 2016

"Veronise and your family, Sonny had many accomplishments, but  the greatest of Sonny's accomplishments were that of you, and your family. Please let that thought soothe a little of your pain, while you accept my condolence, and the moral support of close family and friends. Constantly, reflect on God's promise "“Your dead will live, rise up, awake and shout joyfully. The earth will let those powerless in death come to life."  (Isaiah 26:19) What a wonderful hope you and your family have to embrace Sonny again! God is faithful and true. Please look forward to this promise, as he will comfort and strengthen you as you move on into the future."

This tribute was added by joan poindexter on 30th December 2016

"Mrs. Wright, Denise, Phil and Family,
My deepest sympathy and condolences for your earthly loss of your husband/father. 2016 has been a very tough year, however, it is my prayer that God will provide you with the strength and continued faith to help you get through those tough days ahead. Praying for you and sending our love. Joan & Bernard"

This tribute was added by Dr Preston Adams on 29th December 2016

"Sonny Wright was someone very special,he and wife together were so kind, loving and friendly. Together they always had time to share with you and give you words of wisdom. Now that Sonny is with the Lord he leaves  a legacy  that will transcend generations. A lot of the millenniums may not have known Sonny personally. But I want to say to all, they along with us who had the privilege to know him are benefactors of his visions and ground breaking paths he paved. To the family and friends with much love and God's comfort."

This tribute was added by David Alexander on 28th December 2016

"Sonny was a very unique and talented individual who understood the business model and used it to better not just himself but the community as well. He will be missed. You fought a good fight my friend.."

This tribute was added by Ken Smalls on 28th December 2016

"Denise & Family,

Watching the pics on this site, I greatly sensed that Mr. Wright lived a fulfilling & enriching life which positively impacted everyone with whom he had contact and relationships.  I pray that God would continue to strengthen, comfort, and be with your entire family during this time of grief and loss.    2 Corn 1:4 "...who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."    Continued peace & fond memories."

This tribute was added by Joyce Davis on 28th December 2016

"To the Wright Family,

Please know that you are in our hearts and prayers during this time.  We love you all!

Jerome and Joyce Crenshaw"

This tribute was added by Thomas Jehad on 26th December 2016

"I first met the Honorable Sonny Wright in the 70s, While working with and hosting a radio show on WEDR, called "The Miami Dade Chamber Speaks," for the Chamber. I interviewed Brother Sonny several times, I admired his "Do For Self Thinking," which if adhered to would have put the black community in a far, far, better place than it is today.
I also admired him because, he did not find it incompatible being a Christian, and supporting the work of The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.

May Allah/God Be Please with him!!!
Bro Thomas Jehad"

This tribute was added by Thema Campbell on 23rd December 2016

"To Veronise and the family,  I offer my prayers and condolences during your time of sorrow. May God bless and keep you."

This tribute was added by Don Irv on 23rd December 2016

"May God bless and prayers for the Wright family. I remember Mr. Wright because I still have original Peoples bank account book (4/1983), in support of black businesses in Miami!!! ---Donald Irving, Jr."

This tribute was added by Deanna Hannah on 21st December 2016

"To Denise and family,

Please accept my sincerest condolences at this difficult time.  I pray you find peace and comfort in the Word of God.  I will continue to pray for your hearts to heal according to God's will.  May the Lord continue to be with you and keep you.  May Mr. Wright continue to rest peacefully in heaven.  God bless!"

This tribute was added by Louis Zaretsky on 20th December 2016

"I am very sorry to hear of the passing of Sonny.  He was a great man with a big heart.  The world will miss him.  I will miss our conversations and stories he would tell.  I know that he will continue to live through all that knew him."

This tribute was added by Myrna Egbufoama on 20th December 2016

"To Denise and Family:
May GOD comfort and console the family, May GOD place HIS healing hand to heal all hurt and give you hope in life everlasting. He is not gone, because his memory will always live on in each and every one of you, because of his kindness and his great accomplishments in life. His service here on earth in over, Now he has to serve our Creator in Heaven"

This tribute was added by Shinekqua Baines on 20th December 2016

"Numb is all I can feel right now! My entire body feels like a limb noddle. My chest hurts, my head is spinning, I've cried so much that my eyes are swollen shut! Not a week into grieving the loss of one of my very best friends, Renee Massey Ashe and now today my Father has slipped away from this life too. All within days of the anniversary of my grandmother's death (nearly 15 yrs ago).

Many wonder where my fire, passion, boldness and business saviness comes from. It was innately bestowed upon me by my Dad; the legendary, Sonny Wright: Entrepreneur, Businessman, Politician, (ran for Congress), Defender of the People, Pioneer and Trailblazer. He owned and operated the First Black Bank in South Florida, he was one of the first African Americans to live and own property on the infamous Star Island, he was a successful Real Estate Broker, he owned a restaraunt, owned/operated an African-America newspaper, he ran for Congress and he assisted, supported and provided business, political and career opportunities to the likes of many nationally known individuals.

My Dad fought for the right to be a Black businessman! When he purchased the bank, they wouldn't even take a check from him because he was a Black man, he had to deliver cash. He defied the odds! Every time he put his hand to something it took life!! Your greatest accomplishments were the gift of life and your spirit that you gave to me, my sister, Denise and my brother, David. We will carry on your legacy and provide the same tenacity of courage, strength, integrity and honor you laid the foundation for. I'll miss you Warrior! You fought a good fight."

This tribute was added by Jeanette Russell on 20th December 2016

"To the Family,

Please accept my sincerest condolences for the loss of Mr. Wright and my greatest hope that you will be guided by his wonderful memories. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time."

This tribute was added by Calvin Nance on 20th December 2016


We extend our deepest sympathies to you and your family. May the soul of your father be at peace with our Heavenly Father.

Calvin & Tamara Nance"

This tribute was added by Shinekqua Baines on 16th December 2016

"Daddy, you will forever be known to me as the "Warrior Fighter", defender of all things that should be right (Wright). The bible says in Proverbs 13:22 "A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children", your legacy has covered that for us. Your life speaks volumes of the man that you were and will always be, because your legacy will live on in me, my siblings, our children and our children's children! To be continued....Love, your daughter, Shinekqua"

This tribute was added by Denise Webster on 16th December 2016

"Dad, you are my hero and the most amazing person I know.  I will forever love you for who you are, who you were and for the legacy you left for your family, grandchildren and the world.  Love, your daughter, Denise A. Wright - Webster."

This tribute was added by Naomi Nicholson on 16th December 2016

"Condolences...I know this time will be difficult for you and your family. Sending warm thoughts and praying for comfort for all of you.

Lijah Smith"

This tribute was added by bruce mckoy on 16th December 2016

"very nice  and great person, and a wondful family"

This tribute was added by Jacqueline Lucas on 16th December 2016

"To the family,
  I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Though I don't know you personally, please accept my deepest condolences. When I have lost loved ones, i have found it comforting to know that there is a hope for the future.  John 5:28-29 '' ...for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.'' God gives us this promise he is capable of restoring life back. The Bible holds 8 accounts of resurrections of both men and women.
  There are many other scriptures that talk about the promises for the future, please visit for more."

This tribute was added by Katrina Cherry on 16th December 2016

"I didn't get a chance to know you personally but I feel that I became a part of your extended family through the kindness that your family has shared with me.  They love you so much.  Sleep in peace Mr. Wright...."

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Denise Webster


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