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Lake Lytal Tried To Help The Little Guy

Q: You recently provided the people behind the names of area parks. What about Lake Lytal?
Sally Kanter
suburban West Palm Beach

A: Lake Lytal served 32 years on the Palm Beach County Commission, a record that still stands. Associates called him “Mr. Democrat” and described him as a politician who believed in using government to help the less fortunate.

Lytal pushed for zoning laws to control growth and also fought for the rights of women and minorities. In 1974, he was the first man in Palm Beach County to join the local chapter of the League of Women Voters.
One weekend in the early ’60s, county workers, summoned by Lytal, quietly came into the county courthouse and painted over signs at drinking fountains that said “white” and “colored.” Just like that, the county’s offices were integrated.

Lytal also was a champion of recreational facilities, arguing that money spent on prisons would do more good spent on parks and playgrounds.

“Nothing causes more trouble than a lack of something to do,” he once said. He also helped organize Little League baseball.

Lytal, who moved from Louisiana at age 12 in 1918 and graduated from Palm Beach High School in 1924, lived most of his life in Lake Clarke Shores with his wife, Ruth, a schoolteacher.

In 1975, Lake Lytal Park, on Gun Club Road in West Palm Beach, was named for him. Then 68, he leaped from the high dive to celebrate. He died at 85 in 1992. More than 400 people went to his funeral.

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Posted in Eliot Kleinberg July 4, 2001 at 1:42 pm.

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