VERO BEACH — Community supporter, activist and philanthropist Alma Lee Loy stood before a crowd of more than 300 at the base of the 17th Street bridge on the property of the Vero Beach Electric Plant. Looking over all the faces, including family who traveled from Michigan and former County Commissioners with whom she served, she said she hoped there weren’t waterfalls behind the eyes.
“It is my hope that the dedicated bridge will serve as a constant reminder, especially to the young people of this area, that we all have a responsibility to protect this beautiful area, to act in a positive way, to work together, to accomplish community goals, and meet our ever changing needs,” Loy said during the dedication ceremony renaming the 17th Street bridge in her honor.
For the last two years, State Rep. Debbie Mayfield has worked to get the bridge renamed for Alma Lee Loy, responding to requests from the public and the current Indian River County Board of Commissioners.
The bridge at 17th Street had been a long-fought battle locally and at the state level, with various interests wanting the bridge at different locations. Loy wanted it at 17th Street.
“All those people that wanted it (elsewhere), I’m sure they’re going ‘Leave it to a woman. She made the right decision.’ This is where we needed to be,” Mayfield said, addressing the larger-than-expected crowd.
Long-time friend Lynn Kirby was on hand to celebrate the dedication with Loy and was among the first to ride a bicycle across the bridge before it formally opened in 1979.
“It’s absolutely incredible,” Kirby said of being in attendance. “She’s a wonderful person. She is Vero Beach personified.”
Vero Beach Mayor Pilar Turner and the City Council worked with city staff to make the dedication ceremony possible.
“I think it’s fantastic,” she said of dedicating the bridge to Loy, who has always been an inspiration and has served as motivation to continue working for others.
“It will be a daily reminder,” Turner said of Loy’s sacrifice to the community.
Former County Commissioner Willard “Bunny” Siebert, who served on the commission with Loy, said he was hesitant to speak at the dedication.
“I get very emotional about this lady here,” he said, casting a glance at Loy.
“This dedication of the Alma Lee Loy Bridge is a fitting tribute to a remarkable lady who, over a half a century, her unselfish service to her community has become legendary,” Siebert said, later adding, “From this day forward, when I travel this bridge, I will remember that it is dedicated as a symbol of our community’s love for her and her love for the community. Best of all, she’s not done yet.”