Friends of former Harbor Commissioner Bill Deputy gathered at the New Buffalo City beachfront to pay tribute to him and unveil a bronze plaque dedicating the dune walk in his name.
During his lifetime, Deputy served on the Port Authority and City Harbor Commission, as well as was past Commodore of the New Buffalo Yacht Club and a longtime advocate for the lakefront and safe boating in the harbor community. Bill passed away in 2008 and generously established a foundation with the Berrien Community Foundation for the purpose of helping improve the lakefront in New Buffalo. Through grants, the foundation has awarded the City more than $25,000 to help with the restoration and reconstruction of the popular dune walk at the City beach.
This past spring, Phase Two of the reconstruction was completed on three sections of the stairs and on a landing area. At more than 40-years-old, the dune walk has long needed upgrading and replacement; however, the total cost was prohibitive for the City to complete in one project, so the project is being done in manageable sections. The William Deputy Foundation, through the Berrien County Foundation, awarded the City a $17,500 grant for the repair work in 2016, and the City contributed $17,500 from the City parks millage to the ongoing project. The Foundation has also awarded an additional $7,500 for 2017 renovations, allowing the newer, safer stairs to continue to slowly move up the dune.
Harbor Commission Chair Nancy Smith, Berrien Community Foundation President Lisa Crips-Downey, Downtown Development Authority Chair Robert Kemper and Parks Supervisor Tony Ashbaugh all spoke and remembered Deputy as a quiet but strong force in championing the New Buffalo harbor and the community he loved. Many in attendance expressed a common thought: Deputy was a quiet philanthropist who cared about the growth of his community and the people who lived there.
“Bill worked and fought for this harbor for many years, … I don’t know of a better place for his name to be placed than on the top of the dune walk where you can look over the whole harbor he valued so much,” Smith said.
Smith thanked all that made this grant possible, including grant writer Maureen Shanley, former Parks Supervisor Pat Donnelly, the City Council and staff, Mayor Lou O’Donnell and the Foundation.
Deputy’s nephew, John Deputy, sent a statement from the family, which read, “We are grateful and appreciative of your recognition of Bill. We are also pleased to hear that Bill’s fund at the Community Foundation is being used in a manner to support the unique quality of the assets of your community.”
Crisp-Downey stated that the William J. Deputy Fund was established in 2008 to support projects and programs in the Harbor Country area. Deputy particularly had a heart for projects that would benefit the waterfront areas of Harbor Country. The Berrien Community Foundation administers this endowment to municipalities in Harbor Country for projects that will benefit the residents for generations to come.
“We will accomplish this a little bit at a time,” Crisp-Downey added.
Before enjoying cookies baked by David’s Deli and provided by City Manager Rob Anderson, O’Donnell IV unveiled a likeness of the plaque at the concession area, and all were invited to climb the new stairs to see the plaque and admire the lakefront view.
The 7.5” x 5” cast bronze plaque, mounted on the upper landing of the dune walk, reads: “Bill Deputy Dune walk. Always a champion for our harbor, on the Port Authority and then on the Harbor Commission. 2016.”