In reference to the June 29 obituary on Betty Metcalf, “A Florida lawmaker defied ‘grandmotherly’ image”
Though the former state legislator and psychologist, who died June 23rd, is justly remembered for her advocacy on behalf of women, children and mental health, she should also be praised for her role as board president of Dade Heritage Trust (DHT) from 1992-1994.
I will never forget her chairing a retreat of the Dade Heritage Trust board soon after the devastation of Hurricane Andrew on Aug. 24, 1992, which leveled or damaged thousands of homes and buildings in southwest Miami-Dade.
Dade Heritage’s historic 1905 headquarters had been flooded with three feet of water flowing from Biscayne Bay, the office filled with mud and debris, the air conditioning and office equipment was ruined.
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Trees throughout Miami-Dade were leveled, power lines destroyed, thousands of buildings left roofless, windowless or worse.
Mountains of debris lined roads from Coconut Grove to Homestead.
With so many emergency repairs and business issues that had to be addressed, I was surprised when Betty calmly opened the meeting by speaking of the psychological duress we had all been through.
She invited each of us to share what our own experiences had been. Some of us broke into unexpected tears.
From that meeting we emerged stronger as individuals and as a nonprofit organization.
Dade Heritage Trust not only restored its own headquarters, DHT worked with We Will Rebuild, the non-profit led by the former chairmna of Knight- Ridder the late Alvah H. Chapman Jr. The group oversaw millions of dollars for the restoration of historic properties throughout the Redland and South Dade.
Betty’s emphasis on people first proved a good foundation for all.
Becky Roper Matkov,
Dade Heritage Trust Adviser and former CEO,