Amy Brocato Pearson
Jacksonville Daily Progress
It was a bittersweet moment as Jessica and Jennifer Hunter shared the duties of cutting a bright red ribbon with a massive pair of scissors while a large crowd looked on Monday afternoon.
The daughters of beloved coach Stacy D. Hunter, slain in October, looked grim, then succumbed to tears as they helped Jacksonville Mayor Kenneth Melvin dedicated the city's newly reacquired recreation center in their father's honor.
"It is an honor to dedicate this in his memory," Mayor Melvin said in opening remarks. "It's easy to see what kind of man he was. He loved his Lord, he loved the children, he was loved by the children."
In addition to family members, his former athletes, co-workers from the city of Jacksonville, where he worked as a code enforcement officer and friends were on hand on the temperate afternoon, some donning T-shirts emblazoned with Hunter's photograph or wearing large buttons with his image.
To have the city recreation center named the Stacy D. Hunter Recreation Center "means a lot," Jennifer Hunter said.
The Jacksonville City Council voted April 9 to name the center, reacquired from Lon Morris College, after Hunter.
"He would have thought it was nice people thought so much of him," said Jennifer Hunter, a Jacksonville High School freshman, fighting back tears. "But it's both nice and really hard at the same time."
In the lobby of the center, which City Manager Mo Raissi said looks "100 times better than before" after a rigorous clean-up effort, trophies Hunter earned with his Little League and Little Dribblers were on display under posters and collages of the man who gave so many years serving the youth of Jacksonville.
A side room held even more trophies, and family and close friends gathered there for a moment after the official ceremony.
"I hope Brother Stacy's gentle spirit fills it as children play in the center for years to come," Melvin said.