Yung Ja “Toye” Williams, Black Pearl CEO Passes
Yung Ja “Toye” Williams, owner and CEO of Black Pearl Car Service and Allied Central Ambulette, died Monday of pancreatic cancer. She was 72.
Together with her husband, the late Hon. Calvin Williams, Toye helped to break the color and economic barriers in New York’s taxi and transportation industry.
Born in Kimhae, South Korea, Toye met and married Calvin, a US Air Force sergeant, and settled with him in New York after the Korean war. Ambitious and eager to make a life and living for themselves, they took a small GI loan and started a local restaurant business.
It was not long before they noticed the lack of transportation services in their Bedford-Stuyvesant community, as well as in many of the other communities outside of Manhattan. At that time, the great metropolitan city of New York had only a yellow taxi service which did not serve many parts of Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx.
Toye and Calvin started Black Pearl Car Service in 1962 with its slogan: “We’re Not Yellow, We Go Everywhere”; “Particular People ride Black Pearl” and for almost a decade fought many public, political and legal battles to have the city’s non-medallion cabs licensed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission as legitimate independent companies.
For years, Black Pearl was the largest privately owned taxi company in New York and stood out as a beacon for minority, political and entrepreneurial ambitions. Toye and Calvin put their heart and soul in the fight for services to New York’s underserved communities and won not only the services but thousands of jobs and expanded commerce for all.
Many years later, Allied Central Ambulette was a pioneer in helping to fill the community’s need for nonemergency medical transportation.
From the beginning, serving the community was Toye and Calvin’s natural passion and direction. When she lost her husband twenty years ago, Toye Williams did not retire. She pushed forward to continue growing the business and herself.
Toye was loved and respected as the business stabilizer, the family rock and the strength and light that made all things possible. She is survived by three of her four children, five grandchildren, three brothers and two sisters.