William H. (Bill) Kerdyk Sr.

Ching Tang 1946.

Commissioner Emeritus William “Bill” H. Kerdyk Sr. passed from this world on April 22, 2007.  Mr. Kerdyk served as a Coral Gables City Commissioner for 28 years, serving countless terms as Vice-Mayor, and holding the seat for the longest period in the City’s history.  Mr. Kerdyk is survived by Marlene, his loving wife of nearly 50 years, son William H. Kerdyk Jr., daughter-in-law Lynn, daughters Kim Renee, and Tracy Lee and grandchildren, William H. Kerdyk III (Trae), Lindsey and Leigh Mason Kerdyk.
          Born to Frank and Lea (Dosso) Kerdyk in 1927, William Kerdyk Sr. grew up in Gloversville, New York, at the foot of the Adirondack mountain chain.  The beauty of his surroundings enriched young Bill, from its verdant forests, towering mountains, shimmering lakes and crystalline rivers.  His father Frank Sr., born in Amsterdam, Holland, was a master in the leather tannery business, and came to the United States in 1908.  Lea Dosso was from Northern Italy.
Commissioner Kerdyk attended Coral Gables Elementary School and Ponce de Leon Senior High School, now Ponce de Leon Middle School.  He followed his brother to the University of Miami, where he served on the Student Council and was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity.  Graduating in 1951 with a degree in political science, Kerdyk joined the Naval Reserve during the Korean conflict, and trained at the former Naval Air Station in Opa Locka.  He began his lifelong career in the insurance industry starting with the firm of Elliot McKiever and Stowe.
          Kerdyk fell in love with Marlene Schulte whom he married on December 28, 1957, spending their honeymoon in Haiti and Jamaica.  That same year, brother Frank Kerdyk, was elected to the Coral Gables City Commission for a four-year term.  Mr. William Kerdyk and Marlene’s first child, William Jr., was born in 1960, followed by Kim Renee in 1962 and Tracy Lee in 1966.
          When William Kerdyk Sr. decided to run for office in 1967, his friends advised against it. If elected, Kerdyk, at 39, would be the youngest member of the Commission. Kerdyk not only won a seat, but won the highest number of votes.
          In almost three decades, the face of Coral Gables and the region changed dramatically.  With prosperity came growth, and the City Commissioners struggled with the proper balance between the City’s original vision and future needs.  With the construction of the landmark David William Hotel, the City’s present height limitations were set. Later, with the proliferation of modern buildings, the City Commission enacted the Mediterranean Style Ordinance, seeking a return to the inspired original architectural theme.
          When the Biltmore Hotel was threatened with demolition, soon after it closed as a Veteran’s Administration Hospital in 1968, Kerdyk listened and acted with a sensitivity that eventually led to the preservation of this National Historic Landmark.
          After visiting New Orleans in the early 1970s, William Kerdyk Sr. was so impressed with the positive impact of preservation, that he was a key promoter of Coral Gables’ historic preservation ordinance, one of the first in the state.  Throughout his tenure on the City Commission, Kerdyk supported those values for which the City is today renowned internationally. 
          Beyond his role as a City Commissioner, Mr. Kerdyk was immersed in the community’s well being. The list is endless.  Among them are his service as the Chairman of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce; Founder and first Chairman of the Junior Orange Bowl International Golf Tournament; a member of the  Board of Trustees and President of the Alumni Association for the University of Miami and a member of the Iron Arrow Honor Society; a member of the South Florida Planning Advisory Board (Governor Lawton Chiles’ appointee); a member of the  Executive Committee and Board of Directors for the Florida League of Cities; a member of special committees for  the National League of Cities; Co-founder and Honorary Chairman of the “Save the Palms” Committee; a member of the Coral Gables Elks and Rotary Clubs, and Vice-president of the Hearing and Speech Center of South Florida. 
Mr. Kerdyk’s honors are innumerable, but perhaps his most memorable, was his selection as the winner of the H. Harris Drew Award in 1987. The award, given by the Florida League of Cities, named him the Outstanding Municipal Official for the State of Florida. Above all else, William Kerdyk Sr. was a beloved citizen.  Commissioner Kerdyk never sought the spotlight, but the spotlight frequently found him.  In August 1967, four months after Mr. Kerdyk’s first election, Coral Gables Times reporter, Edwin Knight published a “report card” that summarized the Coral Gables Commissioner’s promises and successes to date.  In writing extensively about William H. Kerdyk Sr., he ended with: “Mostly though, Kerdyk offered himself.”
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in his memory be made to The Coral Gables Community Foundation, 1825 Ponce de Leon Boulevard, #447, Coral Gables, Florida 33134