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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – At 83 years old and battling cancer, Maurice Ferre slowly walked up to receive what he called the greatest honor of his life.

The 23-acre museum park, stretching from the Perez Art Museum to the American Airlines Arena, and from Biscayne Boulevard to the bay, is now Maurice A. Ferre Park.

Miami’s mayor Francis Suarez and city commission cut the ribbon to make it official.

“Things are named for people when others think they have done something, so I am honored by them,” said Ferre.

Ferre served 6 terms as mayor, from 1973 until 1985.

The nation’s first Puerto Rico-born mayor, he spearheaded the purchase of Bayfront property to preserve green space in Miami’s urban core.

Author T.D. Allman calls Ferre a visionary who shaped Miami’s future as an international city.

“He’s a great man, he did a lot for all of us,” said Allman. “He was the one who envisioned and helped create Miami as the city of the future.”

Thelma Gibson remembers when Ferre voted to name a park in Overtown after her late husband, the Rev. Theodore Gibson.

“This brings back so many memories,” she said.

The naming ceremony included a special moment when Miami’s current mayor was joined by four former mayors of the magic city, all there to honor Ferre.

“What do you want your legacy to be Maurice? Love. Love of the people, love of Miami. The importance of we the people. The people of Miaimi,” said Gibson.

Eliott Rodriguez

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