The People’s Mayor

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The next time you visit the Pavilion on A1A and Palmetto Park Road take a moment to reflect on the plaque dedicated to Emil Danciu.

Even in bronze his personality shines through.

In 1969 Emil Danciu was the youngest man ever to serve as mayor of Boca Raton. He served as mayor not once, but twice, and stayed engaged in civic life long after he left office in 1993.

If you look up from that plaque and cast your eye north along the beaches of A1A you might want to say a silent prayer of thanks to Emil for leading the effort to save our beaches from development. This effort later extended to all city parks and the creation of our Greater Beach & Parks District.

Emil, along with his effervescent wife Eleanor, raised six children in Boca Raton, and perhaps it was this love of family that motivated him to advocate for preserving green space and limiting development.

Emil Danciu wanted all families to enjoy the true riches of our city for generations to come. He gave the impression of the ordinary man, though he was anything but ordinary. It is not exaggeration to say he was extraordinary.

His passion was for life was also evident in his passion for fun.

Emil opened four oyster bars in Boca Raton know as Dirty Moe’s. There is even a Facebook page dedicated to fans of Dirty Moe’s, and I encourage you all to log on and learn more about the people’s mayor.

The title of ‘The People’s Mayor’ was well earned.

During his early days in office he protested the lack of bus service for children in the Pearl City neighborhood and decided to take them to school himself in his station wagon.

In 1973 Emil led a parents race-relations committee in response to problems at Boca Raton High School during the first year of busing.

Schools were always one of his top priorities and he played a key part in keeping Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. He also successfully secured a one million dollar grant from the Florida Legislature, to be used to improve university roads.

The development of Mizner Park was another area where Emil took issue, the direction our CRA was taking back in the early days called for more development and less park. He believed taxpayers would eventually be burdened with costs. Was he correct?  We’ll know when the bill comes due.

Emil spoke his mind but never made enemies and that’s a lesson we can all use today.

Watch Katie Barr’s interview with Eleanor Danciu, the First Lady of Boca Raton.

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Katie's family moved to Boca Raton in 1970 where she later attended Palm Beach Community College and FAU. Katie is the Founder of HaitianArt.com, a Boca Raton company which began in 1989 as a small art studio. Works by Haiti’s artists soon became part of a revolving exhibit at City Hall as well as the Boca Raton Library and Community Center. The gallery later moved to Delray Beach and broadened its base to include works by Eastern Cuban artists and Florida Highwaymen. Today her focus is on art consulting and internet art sales. She is on the board of the A.C.T.I.O.N. Foundation, a non-profit organization whose goal is to foster harmony between the Caribbean community and the United States, and currently serves as the Vice President of the Riviera Civic Association.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Katie for capturing this most inspiring story. Boca Raton has a very rich history and the People’s Mayor is one of its brightest moments. As Mayor, I will strive to follow the path cut by Mayor Danciu. Preservation of the Boca Raton spirit is of utmost importance to me. To have the opportunity to continue in his shadow and provide for the ‘fun’ he inspired is an honor and a privilege. Al Zucaro

  2. On our many walks to the pavilion we pass this plaque near the south sidewalk. We stop & reflect how very special Boca is to have all this green space along A1A. It is a unique city. Dirty Moes – brings back memories. Before buying our home, we bought in Sea Ranch. Every Friday night after work, we would walk there to have rock shrimp, wings & beer. Great memories of long ago. Thanks for refreshing them.

  3. Mayor Danciu’s Dirty Moe’s was truly a local spot and so much fun. Emil was a man and Mayor of and for the people.

    Those of us who remember life in Boca 35 and more years ago, when the CEO of the Chamber Of Commerce was still in diapers, find it hard to believe the Boca Chamber wants to build on and monetize our parks. They are for Scott Singer. The shortsighted are all about money, never working with residents to build quality of life and a COMMUNITY as Mayor Danciu exemplified.

    You too can spoil the thoughtful efforts of our City forefathers – vote for Scott Singer on August 28th. Singer voted for the monster home on the beach at 2500 N Ocean with another to follow. Singer is paid to vote for such projects, look where his campaign money comes from – well over $100,000 and counting.

    Please think and reflect before you vote.

  4. He was a true visionary in preserving the city by the beach, for all its citizens and future generations to come.

  5. Great article on Mayor Danciu
    Hopefully we will get a new mayor who will follow his example and try to keep Boca from getting more out of control like it has been in the recent years, with the former people in office,that let greed be their motivator

  6. He really was a wonderful leader and mayor! My dad always comments on Spanish River Park when we drive by: “Thanks to Emil Danciu we have a beautiful park and no developments here!” We need more like him nowadays. Thanks for the nice article.

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