For George DuBreuil, a Miami vice mayor and commissioner in the mid-1950s, no good deed went forgotten.
Sometimes the favor would take years to repay, but DuBreuil, who died May 16 at 93 in Kendall, remembered.
At 12, the Key West-born DuBreuil had been living in Miami for 10 years and was desperately in need of a job to help his family. Delivering the hometown paper seemed a good fit — but for one thing:
A paperboy needs a means of conveyance.
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“My dad wanted a bike so badly he was in a bicycle shop and a complete stranger saw this little boy looking at this bike. He said to him, ‘Why do you want that bike?’
“[Dad] said, ‘My father is on the WPA and I have to get a job to help my family.’ He was always about helping his family and helping other people and making sure if he could repay them in some act of kindness he would,” said son James DuBreuil, an ABC News producer for 20/20.
DuBreuil, a Miami Edison, Miami Senior High and University of Miami student, would become a Miami vice mayor and commissioner from 1955 to 1963. That man from the past appeared before commissioners decades later to seek funds for Miami’s parks and recreation department.
DuBreuil saw to it that the parks department got its funding. When questioned by fellow commissioners, he responded: “Because that man sitting right here doesn’t remember who I was but when I was 12 he helped me buy a bike.”
Sounds like DuBreuil.
“When Larry King was down in Miami he used to have my father on his radio show. He would call and say, ‘George, I don’t have a guest, will you be on my show?’ and dad was always trying to develop relationships,” his son said.
The senior DuBreuil, who had worked in construction, said those roots were formed at the Miami Springs restaurant he founded in 1949 opposite Miami International Airport. For 20 years, the family-owned DuBreuil’s Restaurant on Northwest 36th Street drew a cross-section of people. Steven P. Clark (later Miami-Dade mayor) helped DuBreuil, who had worked in construction, build the restaurant. Clark worked as a cook there for six months.
The place, like Versailles on Southwest Eighth Street today, was a haven for campaigning and finding out what mattered in Miami.
“That’s how I got into politics,” DuBreuil, a former president of the Coral Gables Country Club, told the City of Miami Springs News Bulletin 50 years after the restaurant had opened.
From 1956 to 1964, DuBreuil handled airline catering at MIA, and after leaving office in 1963 he was an organizer and founder of the former Inter-National Bank of Miami. In 1969, he opened and was president of George DuBreuil and Associates, a Coral Gables public relations and advertising firm for the construction and industrial industry.
“My dad had a vision for Miami. He tried to move away but he couldn’t,” his son said. “He said ‘Miami would be my home until my dying day.’”
Those few excursions, however, proved fruitful.
DuBreuil, a Navy radioman during World War II, was awarded a presidential letter of commendation for his services as an interpreter and communications man with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s party at the Yalta Conference in 1945.
In the 1950s, while accompanying his daughter to Disneyland in California, he saw its monorail and decided that is what he wanted for Miami. He proposed his idea to fellow commissioners. He was about 25 years too soon.
Besides his son, DuBreuil is survived by his wife, Joan, children Georgeana and Kimberly, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and his sister Marguerite.
A funeral Mass will be held at 3:30 p.m. June 1 at Church of the Little Flower, 2711 Indian Mound Trail, Coral Gables. A celebration of life follows at 5 p.m. at the South Miami/Coral Gables Elks Lodge #1676, 6304 SW 78th St.
Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.