Town gives historic road new honorary name after living resident

Jesse Hollett
Posted 4/12/17

ORANGE PARK – Annie Lee Keys, 84, has made many memories on Railroad Avenue.

And soon, the road will be named after her following a vote April 3 by Orange Park Town Council.

It will be an …

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Town gives historic road new honorary name after living resident

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Annie Lee Keys, 84, has made many memories on Railroad Avenue.

And soon, the road will be named after her following a vote April 3 by Orange Park Town Council.

It will be an honorary name, meaning residents can keep their addresses. The change will come with the addition of a new nameplate above Railroad Avenue markers that bear Keys’ name.

Council members unanimously voted to approve the change to Annie Lee Keys Boulevard after an impassioned speech and presentation by Keys’ grandson, Edward Lorenzo Keys, 44.

“The downtown community in the heart of Orange Park has produced great names that are listed on the streets that they lived,” Edward said. “Names like Miller Street, Filmore Lane, Floyd Circle…These are some of the first families to occupy this land. I am speaking to you today about one lady who still lives in this community and has shown a lifetime commitment to it and the rest of Clay County.”

Growing up, Keys attended and later taught at T.C. Miller Learning Center, a segregated, one room school on McIntosh Avenue. Keys worked as a schoolteacher for 27 years with a specialty in special education.

She also provides rental housing for low-income citizens in the town.

“I’ve known Ms. Keys for many, many… years, and the one thing I always liked about her was that smile she gave every time you greeted her,” said Mayor Eugene Nix.

When council members finalized their vote to name the road after her, Keys fell into a friend’s arms and began to cry.

“There’s absolutely no question that this resident has made a significant contribution to not only our town, but our entire community,” said Council member Gary Meeks.

She remained humble after the announcement. “I feel really good, and yet I feel like they shouldn’t have named it after me,” Keys said.

Town officials hope to have the marker in place before Keys’ birthday in June. An honorary street name is a first for the Town of Orange Park. Although many streets in the town are named after past residents who contributed to the area in some way, it’s uncommon for the street to be named after a living resident.

Keys’ grandson Edward Keys establishes computer networks for the Professional Golfers Association Tour. He said traveling all over the country and seeing the ways others were honored gave him the idea to ask the town to name a street after his grandmother.

“Being to other places and just getting the idea to other people being honored, I said well she deserves it just as much as some of the other people I’ve seen,” he said. “I also thought it would be an inspiration to our neighborhood.”

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