A little more than a year ago, the city of Hartford and Mayor Eddie A. Perez paid tribute to the late Olga Mele by dedicating a tree to her in Bushnell Park between the pond and the carousel. The honor was well deserved.
Mrs. Mele, who moved to Hartford in 1941 and passed away in 2003, became a legendary matriarch of Hartford's Puerto Rican community, recognized for her lifetime of helping residents acquire housing, learn English and find jobs and medical care.
She began in the early 1950s by teaching migrant workers about nutrition.
She also played a key role in politically mobilizing the Puerto Rican community, now the largest ethnic group in the city, winning numerous awards for public service along the way.
Regrettably, the tree that was planted in her honor has died. That's not the way she should be remembered by the thousands of people whose lives she touched, many of whom still live in Hartford.
Mr. Perez, who like so many others is a personification of Mrs. Mele's vibrant legacy, is urged to dedicate another tree or take the lead in establishing a more permanent monument to her memory.
It's the least that Hartford can do.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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