A legacy memorialized

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 11:09 AM.

Rish served in the Florida Legislature for eight years and advocated on the part of the disabled, spearheading the creation of Billy Joe Rish Paark, the only park in the state established strictly to serve the disabled.

But it was the office at Fourth and U.S. 98 that was his headquarters as speakers noted on Monday.

His son Jay remembered the office as something of a “mini-mall” that at various times also housed a title company, karate school and sub sandwich shop.

“This property was the hub of many things that shaped out town and region,” said son Jay Rish, noting the creation of the Port St. Joe Marina, the moving of U.S. Highway 98, the development of WindMark Beach and the expansion of water and sewer from the city to most of the southern end of the county.

“He was a Christian, a husband, a father, a lawyer and a statesman, in that order. He was probably be humbled by this. He would probably say we made too much of a fuss. He would probably think it should be named after somebody else.”

Jay Rish also highlighted his father’s fundamental character and outlook on life during his final days. The family took a trip to the oncologist and hospital to see his father. The doctor said he had good news and bad news, Jay said.

The good news was that Billy Joe was cancer free. The bad news, as Jay related, was the damage to his body in removing the cancer. Like a jetliner in descent, doctors had gotten the “motors restarted” but no longer believed they could stop the descent.

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