Community celebrates the life, legacy of Arthur E. Teele, Jr.

Late Commissioner remembered for dedication and compassion

Jimmie Davis Jr. | 7/31/2013, 3:27 p.m.
Arthur E. Teele, Jr. received a “Purple Heart” for being wounded while serving in Vietnam, and rightfully so he could ...
The Teele family remembers: Attending the program honoring Arthur Teele, Jr., were Taleah Wilchcombe, niece; Dior Rich, niece; Stephanie Teele, wife; Helen Rich, sister; Marsha Wilchcombe, sister; and Takira Wilchcombe, niece. —Miami Times photo/Marvin Ellis

Arthur E. Teele, Jr. received a “Purple Heart” for being wounded while serving in Vietnam, and rightfully so he could have came back home and retired but he didn’t. Teele did the unthinkable and returned back to duty and was shot down a second time out of the helicopter. This sequence of events along with many others was touted by the loving community in which Teele served on Saturday July 27, at Charles Hadley Park “Celebrating the life and legacy of the late City Commissioner Arthur E. Teele, Jr.”

“This is truly a wonderful affair,” said Stephanie Kerr-Teele during the ceremony. “I’m very delighted to see all of the people from the community come together to celebrate my late husband’s legacy.” The Model City Revitalization Trust, which was renamed the Liberty City Trust, was created by Teele to provide economic opportunities for District 5.

The food for the event was catered by the Bahamian Connection Restaurant, and owner Philip Ingraham says Teele helped his family business. “We are in our building because of Teele,” said Ingraham. This was the second year that members of the community held a celebration of life for Teele, and according to Florence Litthcut Nichols, Executive Director of Intercity Dance Company the first one was held last year.

“This building wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Teele,” said Nichols. “We want to dedicate the Black Box Theater in Teele’s name.”

Teele Graduated from Florida State University College of Law and went into the military after his graduation. Elaine H. Black, President/CEO of the Liberty City Trust pointed out that Teele served as a pro bono lawyer for the Wilmington Ten who were convicted in 1971 of arson and conspiracy. 

“Teele’s legacy should be everyone’s call to action to work on the many challenges that face our community,” Black said. “Let us not forget his commitment to our community.”

President Ronald Reagan appointed Teele to the post of Assistant Secretary of Transportation. When he to Miami and became a city commissioner Teele knew how to secure funding for Dade’s transportation system.

“He secured millions of dollars for transportation for Miami,” said Clarence Washington, President TWU Local 291 AFL-CIO. “Money that was secured back then still affects so many people over the years.”

Rubin Young, President of Blacks Organizing Leadership Development [BOLD] attended the ceremony and believes that Teele made Miami a better place. “He cared about the little man,” Young said. “He developed programs that put people to work.”

During the Cuban crisis in 1994 where 30,000 Cubans were picked up and taken to Guantanamo Mayor Thomas Regalado said that Teele became an asset to the Cuban community.

“People were so surprised how Teele fought for the Cuban community,” said Regalado. “He did fight for every community.”