Published On: Mon, Aug 2nd, 2021

Longtime Community Service Champion, Emily Lilly steps down as Deerfield Beach Historical Society President

Emily Lilly has stepped down from her position as the Deerfield Beach Historical Society’s president after serving in the position for six years. 

Community service has been a part of Lilly’s life for years. She taught for 37 years and was Boca Raton’s Community Resources and Affairs Specialist for 18. She has volunteered for numerous causes such as rebuilding after Hurricane Andrew, the Friends of the Boca Raton Library, the Children’s Museum, and many more.

“I lived in a very small town and everything that the community offered to us, we gave back in participation,” Lilly said. She grew up in upstate New York and noted how the importance of community shaped her motivation to get involved. “We were brought up to be community-minded and to help in whatever way we could.”

Ed Dietrich, board member for the historical society and son of one of its co-founders, described Lilly as passionate, visionary, and the type of person to stick to her guns.

“Nothing [about Lilly] was ever self-serving. It was always about the society, the town, the community, community building — which can also be very challenging, in and of itself,” Dietrich said. “[When] Emily came along, she was really a breath of fresh air. She had a tremendous vision for the society.”

The historian for the Deerfield Beach Historical Society, Amie Kay Tanner, highlighted Lilly’s involvement in bringing a 1950 red caboose to its new home with the society after it had been sitting, unused on the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) tracks for years. The society plans on restoring the caboose then opening it up to the public for educational purposes.

“People don’t really sometimes take time to look back,” Tanner said. “As [Lilly] came to Deerfield she took the time to look into it, and that makes a difference… Emily is very, very serious and very committed. Sometimes that’s hard to find.”

Tanner and Dietrich both underscored Lilly’s sense of organization, communication, and commitment to her cause. Dietrich pointed to her organization of their Memorial Day celebrations and her ability to get many community organizations to work together.

“The Memorial Day event was really emblematic of her ability to put together collaborations and really get that communication down,” said Dietrich. “She really led the charge on that, just a fantastic job.”

Lilly left her position to give more focus to her family, however, she still intends to be involved in the Deerfield Beach Historical Society as a board member in addition to other volunteer efforts.

“I think it’s very important that parents encourage their young children to get involved as much as possible,” Lilly said. She expressed the benefits of getting involved, primarily the many friends she has made and kept over the years. “The only thing I can say is that when you get involved, when you are working with others, there is a sense of goodwill, and a good feeling. Because when you give you get.”

About the Author

- Gillian is a senior studying Multimedia Journalism and Communication Studies at Florida Atlantic University. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief at the University Press.

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