LAKE PARK — Henry McNish's first scheduled meeting with new mayor Desca DuBois three years ago was scheduled to last 15 minutes.
Nearly two hours later, the then-president of the Friends of the Lake Park Public Library finally walked out of DuBois' office at town hall, impressed with what he had learned about the South Carolina native and arts enthusiast.
On Jan. 7, McNish was one of about 50 people who participated in a public memorial service at Kelsey Park for DuBois, who died in April.
A Riviera Beach resident who had grown close to DuBois during her three years as mayor, McNish spearheaded an effort to plant an oak tree and install a plaque at its base in her memory.
"I wanted to do something to remember her forever," said McNish, who contributed his own money toward the project and later received donations. Chris Delago, president of landscape architecture firm Chris Wayne and Associates, Inc., donated the labor and equipment to transport and install the tree.
"That oak's going to be there for a long time. After awhile, people forget and go on to other pressing matters. I figured I'd do something where she could be remembered every day."
The tree was planted Jan. 5, and the plaque was unveiled two days later, during the 30-minute memorial service, which drew residents, colleagues, family and friends of DuBois, including her husband, current mayor James DuBois, sister Claudette Towne of Barnwell, S.C., town manager Maria Davis, councilmen Kendall Rumsey and Tim Stevens, Riviera Beach mayor Thomas Masters and Dan Liftman, a staff assistant for U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar.
"I was very happy with the turnout," Davis said. "She was special. I miss her."
Towne does too, and shared fond memories of her sister during the service.
"She very much loved this town," Towne said. "She talked about all the things she wanted to do. She visualized where Lake Park could go. She very much believed that it was going to grow. I'm very happy James has become mayor, and he can carry on what she saw for the future of this town."