This week, Mayor Teri Johnston and the Key West City Commission took the opportunity to recognize Harry Bethel for 50 years of public service.
Bethel served on the City Commission from 1991 until 2007. Thirteen of those years, he served as vice mayor, earning him the honorary title of Vice Mayor Emeritus.
"Harry is the face of what public service is all about," said Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, noting that much of Bethel's service over the years was "pro bono."
"Harry Livingston Bethel has served the citizens of Key West and the Florida Keys for more than half a century," reads the proclamation, "through a long and historic series of elected and appointed public offices, and as a public utility employee."
In addition to his many years on the City Commission, Bethel has served on many boards, from the Key West Bight Management Board to the Monroe County Housing Authority Board. He was elected several times to the Key West Civil Service Board and has been a member of many social organizations, including the Key West Jaycees, Key West Noon Rotary Club, Elk's Club, Moose Lodge, and the Military Affairs Committee. He has enjoyed several gubernatorial appointments.
During the first eight years of his service on the City Commission, he championed the construction of the Skate Park on Flagler Avenue through private donations. Through his efforts, the Key West Annual Christmas Tree Lighting continues to feature trees provided by a private donor.
Bethel is an 8th generation Conch, and the commission chambers were filled with family and friends.
"I had the honor of serving my city and my people, neighbors, and friends," he said, accepting the honor. "I only hope I did well by you."
The proclamation ended with Bethel's mantra, "Always be fair, and you will always be right," and his slogan, "I did it my way."
In the photo from L to R: Commissioners Gregory Davila and Mary Lou Hoover, Mayor Teri Johnston, Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, Vice-Mayor Emeritus Harry Bethel, Vice-Mayor Sam Kaufman, and Commissioners Clayton Lopez and Billy Wardlow.