Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

In the Park, Friends Honor Civic Leader's Life

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

In the Park, Friends Honor Civic Leader's Life

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

A flock of white ibis pecked at the edge of Christopher Creek around 5 p.m. Sept. 20 while moss gently swayed from trees nearby at the green city park at 2001 LaVaca Road.

As traffic sped by on nearby San Jose Boulevard, Rabbi Jonathan Lubliner tried to describe his late friend, Nathan Krestul, on the day the park's name was changed to honor him.

A passage from Psalms that praises one who stays away from the wicked and likens them to something they were surrounded by in the park came to mind.

" 'Like a tree, planted by streams of water, producing fruit in its season and whose foliage never withers,' " said Lubliner, from the Jacksonville Jewish Center. "Today we pay tribute to the memory of a man who was a tree ... whose deeds and values, whose belief in human dignity and affordable housing reminds us of his legacy, now memorialized in a park full of trees."

More than 70 people attended the rededication of what used to be LaVaca Park in honor of Krestul, instrumental in founding the Housing Partnership of Northeast Florida.

One was Dick Browdy, who said it was fitting the park now bears Krestul's name because he "dedicated his life to the enhancement of neighborhoods." Another, Laurie Dubow, said his friend understood that everyone needed a safe, affordable home to live in, hence his desire to start the partnership.

"You would never hear Nate talk of his accomplishment. He just continued to live by truth, integrity, honesty, virtue and fairness," he said. "Just look at all the beautiful trees around us; the flower garden and butterfly habitat. Notice the stream that runs nearby. All these depict the calm, easy-flowing, stable and warm personality of Nate."

Krestul died in late April at age 76, according to his Florida Times-Union obituary. After graduating from the University of Florida in 1952, he served in the U.S. Army, then became a home builder in Jacksonville. He was president of the Northeast Florida Builders Association and executive director of the Duval County Housing Finance Authority. …

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