Raymond V. Haysbert Sr., 90, whose Parks Sausage Co. in 1969 became the first black-owned business in the United States to go public, died Monday at a Baltimore hospital after suffering from congestive heart failure, his son Brian Haysbert said.
Born in poverty, Mr. Haysbert became a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, serving in Africa and Italy before settling in Baltimore. There, he joined the company started by Henry Parks that became well-known throughout the Northeast by advertisements featuring a hungry boy asking, "More Parks Sausages, Mom - please!"
Kweisi Mfume, the former congressman and former NAACP leader, said that in addition to his role as chief executive at Parks, Mr. Haysbert was a political adviser and community leader who became "synonymous with the struggle for entrepreneurship among African Americans at a time when it wasn't very popular."
Mr. Haysbert, who suffered several heart attacks in recent years, remained chairman of the Greater Baltimore Urban League until his death, bringing the organization back from the brink of bankruptcy.
Brian Haysbert said that his father always had time to help those trying to start their own businesses, and taught him that "success is always tied to someone else and not just to yourself."