Over twenty years ago, Jesse, Don and Buck Perez, best known to the West End of Moline as part of the Sylvan Island Dreamers, took the task of spearheading a renewal project to improve and keep Sylvan Island open and family friendly. It was a place the three knew all too well from their childhood days and Jesse recalled fond memories of the river. “When I was growing up,” said Perez. “Right when June hit and school was out, we’d go down there and swim.”

This past May, the daughters of the Dreamers, Jesse’s daughter Franki Cunningham, Don’s daughter Benita DeLoach and Buck’s daughter Gloria Perez-Loy, along with the support of their families wanted to do something for their father’s to commemorate their hard work on the Island and to preserve their early brotherly bonding phase of life. “My cousin Dodi’s Dad (Buck) had passed the previous year and we were having a conversation about how loved ones are here one day and gone the next,” said Franki. “She wanted to memorialize her Dad someway and because he loved his brothers so much, a bench on Sylvan Island was the perfect location.”


Each of the daughters have fond memories of their dads on Sylvan Island, whether it was when they were young or later in their years when they saw their fathers put in countless hours on the Island, cleaning, building fishing piers and pretty much doing anything and everything you could think of to make it look great. Even Jesse recalled his little sister Rosemary running to their dad on the bridge. But if you ask Benita, the word fond might not be the first word she would pick to use when reminiscing about the Island. “Personally, I was terrified of the bridge,” said Benita. “J (Benita’s brother) remembers catching his first fish there and I think the best thing was it was important to my Dad and how cool it was for him to share it with us. It was one nice way to bond with him.”

Well, that bridge was given a complete makeover in May and could not be more inviting now. And as Jesse and Don both share a birthday on Aug 6th, they also share the sentiment that their brother Buck can rest easy knowing that they, along with all those that visit the Island can enjoy the bench dedicated to them as well. “It was a peaceful and fulfilling moment in my life knowing that my Daddy’s legacy lives on now,” explained Gloria. “He would be pleased to know that it is there if someone needed to sit and rest.”

With a picture of their brother in his hand and his other brother Don at his side, the bench was given an official blessing early this summer by Deacon Joseph Dockery from St. Pius X Church in Rock Island, but it was Jesse’s blessing along with Don’s that made their lifetime on Sylvan Island more meaningful and now, never forgotten. “The park is looking very good now,” said Jesse. “The Dreamers took it over and really fixed it up. We just wanted to make it look nice.”

Photo credit: Phil Cunningham


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