Funeral services for Maude Ford Lee are today in West Palm Beach. She was the first person of African descent to serve on the Palm Beach County Commission when she was elected in 1990 and, in her decade-long public career, she quietly accomplished much.
She pushed for a successful countywide disparity study that ensured more female- and minority-owned companies were eligible for Palm Beach County (PBC) contracts; she led the creation of PBC’s first Office of Economic Development; and later, she formed the nonprofit Business and Economic Development Revitalization Corp., which created a small-business incubator in Riviera Beach. There was more after her time on the dais. Much more.
But what we really appreciate her for is Dyer Park.
The grassy, hilly, 560-acre park in unincorporated Palm Beach County stretches along a section of Haverhill Road between MLK Boulevard in Riviera Beach and 45th Street in West Palm Beach. It is a huge treasure of land and flowing waters and is super diverse, with people of all colors, ages and sizes playing baseball or basketball, competing in soccer games, walking their dogs, exercising along the bike trail or the walk route, hosting events. Did we note there’s also a playground for kids?
And right at the entrance is a simple sign.
On Saturday, there was even an Easter Egg Hunt. Hosted for the third year at Dyer Park by Christ Family Worship Assembly in West Palm Beach, head usher Jackie Green said they chose Dyer for a simple reason. “It’s a great park.”
Indeed, it is. And as chairwoman of the County Commission when the park was founded in 1997, it will be she, even more now, who will come to mind every time we enter.
Learn more about the quiet, community-focused woman who was also wife of the late Percy Lee, founder of the Urban League of PBC, by listening here, to South Florida Sunday, the community news radio show on X102.3 FM. Two activist women who knew her well–Edith Bush of the MLK Coordinating Committee of PBC and Lia Gaines, who worked closely with Madame Commissioner–talk about her work and her legacy. Including Dyer Park.