On Friday, April 15, 2011, Atlantic Beach, Florida lost its number one ambassador. Dezmond Waters, in what he said and did, reminded us of the need to appreciate what we have. We live in a time when so many people seem caught up in immediate gratification and the what’s-in-it-for-me mentality. In some ways, Dezmond was a throwback to a time when family, integrity, and community stood out as the measure of a person. Rather than live a life of what is in it for me, Dezmond constantly looked at what was in it for the world around him.
In 1997, my wife and I moved to Atlantic Beach–and I came to know Dezmond in a different light. He served as one of our city commissioners for this beachside community. After attending a few commission meetings and talking with Dezmond privately, it became abundantly clear that he cared for his community. Read that as he CARED for his COMMUNITY. Write it big; say it loud. Dezmond was a “homer” when it came to Atlantic Beach.
In the fall of 2002, Dezmond nominated me to serve on Atlantic Beach’s Cultural Arts and Recreation Advisory Committee. He believed I would be a good fit and have something to offer. As he did during his years a teacher, he saw something, reached out, and mentored. I served on the committee for 3+ years and helped to develop our community’s Acoustic Night and Songwriters’ Night. These monthly events allow people of all abilities to showcase their musical and lyrical talents. They have become premier events that have gained a following and acclaim in our area. I have been the fortunate recipient of many accolades because I “started” the events. Truth be told, if Dezmond did not appoint me that committee, many people would still be sitting in the living rooms singing to their dogs. Another legacy of Dezmond Waters.
One of Dezmond’s former high school students wrote in the online guest book at www.jacksonville.com:
Mr. Waters truly showed me as one of his history and Latin students at Sandalwood High School how to marvel at what your own back door has to offer….He had true impact on my life then and now the one I spend with my family.
Dezmond Waters left a lasting impact–a huge legacy–for his students and his community. I am glad to have known him. And while words such as mine can ring with cliché and sentimentality, I can only hope that, when the final tally is made, that I will have made even a fraction of the impact he made.
Thanks Dezmond. You did make a difference for a community.
(c) 2011. Steve Piscitelli and Steve Piscitelli’s Blog
[Beach photo by Maureen Buik.]