FORT WORTH -- Clara Sue McCafferty, 68, went to be with the Lord on Wednesday, May 26, 2004, in Fort Worth.
Funeral: 3:30 p.m. Friday in Greenwood Chapel. Burial: Oakwood Cemetery.
Memorials: Expressions of sympathy may be made to the North Fort Worth Historical Society.
Mrs. McCafferty was born July 29, 1935, in Geary, Okla. She was a longtime historical preservationist who was co-founder and president of the North Fort Worth Historical Society, from which she retired in 1998.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Charles E. McCafferty, and parents, T.C. and Elizabeth Blackstock.
Survivors: Sons, Barry and Linda McCafferty of Keller, Mike and Denice McCafferty of Richland Hills and Mark McCafferty of Fort Worth; grandchildren, Chris and Shauna McCafferty, Shawna and Kyle Avey, Blake McCafferty, Maegan McCafferty and Wyatt McCafferty; great-grandchildren, Simon Avey and Christian McCafferty; brother, Tommy Carl Blackstock; and sister, Alice Upchurch.
Greenwood Funeral Home
3100 White Settlement Road, (817) 336-0584
FORT WORTH--Sue McCafferty never backed down when it came to saving historical buildings in the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District.
She locked horns with influential developers, mayors and City Council members -- anybody whose plans she believed would jeopardize the historical authenticity of the Stockyards.
A fiery redhead known for her tenaciousness and outspokenness, she fought proposals to turn the Stockyards into what she derisively called "a glorified amusement park." With energy and persistence, she turned adversaries into converts to her mission.
Mrs. McCafferty, the co-founder and former president of the North Fort Worth Historical Society, died early Wednesday of congestive heart failure at her home on the north side. She was 68.
Mourning friends and family said the Stockyards district has lost its greatest champion.
Mrs. McCafferty summed up her and her late husband Charlie McCafferty's preservation goals in a 1993 profile in the Star-Telegram: "When my husband Charlie and I started the North Fort Worth Historical Society back in '75, we did it because we were afraid this whole area and its history were going to be lost."
"We had nothing against development. Hey, from the packing plants on, there's always been development in the Stockyards. But there's a difference between preserving history and imitating it, and we wanted to keep the history."
Mrs. McCafferty won over the biggest wheeler-dealer in the Stockyards, Fort Worth businessman and developer Holt Hickman, an owner or partner in most of the Stockyards' venues, including Billy Bob's Texas, the Livestock Exchange Building, the Stockyards Station and the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. Hickman and his business associates own 108 acres of the Stockyards' 125 acres.
"She was a wonderful, wonderful lady," Hickman said. "She loved the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. She did everything in her power to preserve it. We will miss her very, very much."
Hickman recalled how Mrs. McCafferty convinced him of her ideas regarding architectural accuracy and historical integrity.
"When I went to the Stockyards, I did not realize that things could be done differently in keeping the historic value of the Stockyards," Hickman said. "As we sat down and talked and I saw her viewpoint, I agreed with her."
For Pam Minick, marketing director at Billy Bob's, the success of the Stockyards as a major tourist attraction with 1.5 million out-of-town visitors each year has proved Mrs. McCafferty right.
"Sometimes, when you are trying to build and expand from a business perspective, you think everything new and modern is the best way to go," Minick said. "She was right. People want to see a piece of American history. In Fort Worth, what makes us unique and what attracts tourists is our Western heritage."
Mrs. McCafferty was born July 29, 1935, in Geary, Okla., but moved to Fort Worth when she was 8 months old. Her father worked for Lone Star Gas.
She went to school at Diamond Hill. In 1954, she married at age 19. Her first marriage ended after seven years. Her husband, whom she declined to discuss in the 1993 profile, left her with three young sons to raise.
Her second husband, Charlie McCafferty, a Fort Worth firefighter and a power in the local Democratic party, introduced her to partisan politics. While working at General Dynamics, she joined a union and became a union committeewoman and was appointed to the Central Labor Council.
Charlie McCafferty also instilled in her a passion to help protect the Stockyards district's heritage. The fledgling historical society, with the McCaffertys leading the way, successfully fought the city to save the Cowtown Coliseum.
Over the years, the society gained the respect of politicians and developers. City staff members learned to consult the society's membership before drafting new north side plans.
Mrs. McCafferty was particularly proud of the North Fort Worth Historical Society Museum, which opened in 1989 in the Exchange Building.
Two years later, on Aug. 19, 1991, Charlie McCafferty died of a heart attack on the Exchange Building lawn in the middle of his beloved Stockyards.
Deciding that it was "too easy just to stay home," Mrs. McCafferty continued to lead the society until her retirement on Aug. 2, 1998, when a huge retirement party was held in her honor at the Stockyards Station.
"You definitely wanted her on your side," said Billy Joe Gabriel, the society's first vice president. "If you started sparring with her, you ended on the losing side."
After retiring, Mrs. McCafferty enjoyed spending time at home with her German shepherd mix, Snooze, and her Tabby cat, Daisy, and relaxed by playing Solitaire on her computer, said her son, Mark McCafferty.
"We were all so proud of her and dad's achievements in the Stockyards," he said. "We know if it weren't for their fight and determination, there would be no Fort Worth Stockyards. She was a hard worker, dedicated to her cause."
Mrs. McCafferty is survived by her three sons, Mark McCafferty of Fort Worth, Barry McCafferty of Keller and Mike McCafferty of Richland Hills; a brother, Tommy Carl Blackstock of Fort Worth; and a sister, Jo Alice Upchurch of Saginaw.
Funeral will be at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Greenwood Chapel, 3100 White Settlement Road.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TX) - May 27, 2004
Author: TONI HEINZL
Charles Edward McCafferty
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