Palm Beach Daily News
July 12, 2017
Town Council members and community leaders agreed today to name the multipurpose field after Oakley Gage Debbs following an emotional plea from his mother, Merrill (Duemler) Debbs. Oakley, an 11-year-old student at Rosarian Academy, died in November from anaphylactic shock resulting from a nut allergy.
ÒOakley, when he was a little boy, all he wanted to do was play soccer,Ó Merrill Debbs said while holding back tears. ÒI promised my son I would get him a field. I promised him and I promised him. Unfortunately I was unable to make that promise to Oakley. Going forward, I would like to propose that hopefully we can name that field in my sonÕs honor because that was his favorite place to play.Ó
Debbs said Oakley also played flag football, lacrosse and other sports multiple days a week at the recreation center.
ÒOakleyÕs favorite place to play was the Palm Beach rec center field,Ó she said. ÒHe has many friends and a twin sister who are currently playing on teams that he would have liked to be on.Ó
Mayor Gail Coniglio said the naming request is a chance for the community to come together to support a third-generation Palm Beach family.
ÒI believe this is an opportunity for all of us to embrace honoring Oakley at our field and to show our respect and certainly compassion to the Debbs family,Ó she said.