By Kathy Jefcoats
FOREST PARK — Retired Forest Park Mayor Corine Deyton said Wednesday she will always hold the city close to her heart.
"I just love Forest Park," said Deyton. "This is a place I've lived in so many years and it will always be home to me."
Deyton, 75, retired in October because of health issues. She served the city for 17 years as councilwoman and first female mayor, following the footsteps of her late husband, Jack Deyton.
She was honored at a reception held Wednesday at Forest Park Senior Center. Council members and Mayor Pro Tem Sparkle Adams presented her with a proclamation and an inscribed watch. Deyton was also given a set of glasses with "Forest Park" etched on them.
Deyton, who remained seated during the two-hour event, her walking cane at hand, said she was surprised by the festivities.
"I'm so shocked," she said. "I'm trying to not cry. I thought I was just coming here for the last time to have lunch. I just can't tell you how much Forest Park has meant to me."
She then cracked the old joke about small towns resisting the acceptance of newcomers.
"I realize I'm a newcomer, I've only been here 52 years," she said. "I want to stay a little longer."
City Manager John Parker worked with Deyton's late husband and said he was honored to have also worked alongside her.
"It's been a pleasure and an honor to work with you and for you, as the city manager and as your friend," he said. "As you take the position of retired mayor, I'd say you're still one of us."
With Deyton's departure, the city has no mayor. The District 2 seat has been empty since July 2011 when Council ousted Karen-Brandee Williams.
A special election will be held in March to fill the rest of Deyton's term but that event may complicate matters more than resolve them because Adams plans to run for mayor.
"I think it's a natural progression and I want to be in a position to do more things," she said. "I've got a lot of plans and I want to see them through."
When Adams resigns her seat to run for mayor, Council will consist of Maudie McCord, Linda Lord and Latresa Akins. The city charter allows the mayor a vote only to break a tie, said Parker.
"I'll be running out of voting members of Council," he said.