YBOR CITY — City officials and family and friends of the “indelible” Molly Ferrara gathered at Centro Ybor on Friday afternoon to recognize her contributions to the city of Tampa.
A memorial sign honoring Ferrara — Tampa’s first female tax collector and Ybor City’s only female alcaldesa, or honorary mayor — was unveiled at 7th Avenue and 16th Street. The marker is up the road from where Ferrara’s record store, Columbia Music and Appliances, operated for more than 40 years.
“She was special,” said Sam Ferrara III, her grandson. “She loved Ybor City and the people that were in it.”
The daughter of Sicilian immigrants, Ferrara was a successful businesswoman in the male-dominated Tampa of the 1950s. She was the founder of the Ybor City Girls Club and served on the boards of the Hillsborough County Heart Association, the Pan American Commission, the Salvation Army, the International Trade Committee, the Pilot’s Club and the International Relations of Business and Professional Women’s Club of Tampa. She won the Woman of the Year award, the Elks Club Brotherhood Award for Service and the Sertoma Service to Mankind award.
“Molly set the standard,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn said during the dedication ceremony. “For my two little girls, the Mollys of the world are their role models.”
Ferrara died in 1979, but many still remember her walking up and down the streets of Ybor City, said Tony Zappone, her longtime friend. She was always smiling.
“She smiled for the whole city of Tampa and Ybor City,” Zappone said.
Ferrara’s historic marker is sponsored by the Hillsborough County Historical Advisory Council, which promotes historic preservation and education throughout the county.