Resumes versus Legacies

legacyEditor’s Note: We will see you after the holidays. Have a safe, happy and joyous holiday season! Thanks for reading and sharing!

Resumes versus legacies.
Which would you rather have?
I’ve been thinking about this lately.
I have this app called “Time Hop” and every day it gives you a look back at 7 years of social media memories.
It’s really kind of cool.
Well 7 years ago this month , we lost a local icon named H. Ruth Pompey and the app let me know. I’m glad it did. Because the memory of Mrs. Pompey brought back a smile. I adored her. So did everybody who knew her and many knew her because she and her amazing husband C. Spencer Pompey were integral parts of Delray and Palm Beach County for decades.
They influenced generations of young people and touched many lives very deeply.
Educators, historians, coaches, mentors, founders and leaders, the Pompey’s amassed remarkable resumes but more importantly they left lasting legacies.
Delray has been blessed with many wonderful people who have left legacies of kindness, achievement, voluntarism and dedication. Remembering them is important–because even though many are gone now they are still very much a part of us and ingrained in the DNA of our town.
So remembering Mrs. Pompey also inspired me to remember a slew of other very special people.
Such as…Ken Ellingsworth, a founder of the Delray Affair, a longtime chamber president and former City Commissioner who welcomed generations of young business people to town and helped them get involved. Those were the days when the first stop you made if you opened a business or a professional practice was the Chamber of Commerce.
At the chamber, mentors like Ken and later the terrific Bill Wood got you plugged in so to speak. The mission was two-fold, get involved to grow your business and grow the business community to help others succeed. I think Karen Granger and her team at today’s chamber are following in this tradition; with the chamber serving as a hub of activity, connection and community.
I thought also of my friend  Barbara D. Smith who also left a lasting legacy. I pass a building named after her every morning at the Achievement Center on Lake Ida Road and I still remember Barbara’s kindness and concern for our city’s most vulnerable children.

She served briefly on the city commission but she had decades of achievement under her belt before she even thought of running.
That’s how it was in those days. People tended to volunteer for years before seeking public office. We knew who they were and they knew us.
Think of how advantageous that is: we know if they show up and do their homework, we know if they can work well with others, whether they are capable of compromise or of evolving. We know whether they listen and learn or just keep their own counsel or if they are merely puppets controlled by others.
We knew them through years of service.
It was a whole lot better tradition if you ask me.
I also thought of Carolyn Gholston and her husband Joe,  two leaders in our southwest neighborhood who worked closely with the city and police department on a vision for creating a safer neighborhood for all.
About a dozen years ago, voters passed a bond issue to build a new splash park at the Catherine Strong Center named after our first female mayor who also served as a city clerk. Mr. and Mrs. Gholston worked hard to muster votes for the bond because they wanted to see the first ever park in that part of our city.  It wasn’t about them, it was about their neighborhood and about the future.
As we exit 2016, an interesting year, I can’t help but remember friends we  have lost.
As I rode in the holiday parade for the first time in a decade, we passed by what we on the City Commission used to call “Garito” corner. Every year, the large and boisterous extended family would stake out real estate on a corner that once housed the venerable Green Owl. And every year when mayor’s and commissioners passed by they were greeted with loud cheers and laughter.
This year, the corner was mostly quiet. The Green Owl has closed (for now) and Barbara Garito, the family matriarch and our beloved City Clerk and friend passed away earlier this year.
I miss her smile. But we are so much richer for having known her and so many others who have made Delray such a special place.
You see cities are made special by people, not by rules and regulations, building heights and millage rates. All of those have their place–but the real magic comes when people devote themselves to a place, work together, build trust, laugh with each other, cry with each other and constantly reach out to bring others in.
Those are the people who leave legacies. And make a true difference. Maybe they didn’t build the biggest chamber or clean up every street in their neighborhood but they did touch a whole lot of lives. And continue to do so.
Legacies–that’s what they left. And that’s what’s truly important.

Happy holidays and see you in the New Year!

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