Orange County

Chapel Hill to honor Joe Herzenberg, first openly gay elected official in the South

A bench honoring former Chapel Hill Town Councilman Joe Herzenberg will be dedicated Saturday, March 10, 2018.
A bench honoring former Chapel Hill Town Councilman Joe Herzenberg will be dedicated Saturday, March 10, 2018.

A former Chapel Hill Town Council member will be honored Saturday, March 10 with the dedication of a decorative bench in his memory on the Bolin Creek Trail.

Joe Herzenberg was the first openly gay elected official in the South. He was a champion of civil rights, the environment and a fixture on Franklin Street.

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Joe Herzenberg

The bench honoring Herzenberg will be dedicated at 10 a.m. on the trail. It is a concrete and bronze bench that sits on a new portion of the trail just west of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The closest public parking is at Umstead Park (399 Umstead Dr.), which is an easy walk along the paved Bolin Creek Trail to the bench. Parks and Recreation staff will leave from the Umstead Park parking lot at 9:30 a.m. and answer questions about the Trail and project along the way.

Artists Michael Waller and Leah Foushee Waller, best known for the bronze bull sculpture in downtown Durham, Major the Bull, designed the bench. It was paid for by the Friends of Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Department.

Herzenberg served on the Town Council from 1979-81 and then again from 1987-93. He left office after it was revealed that he had failed to pay state income tax for the previous 14 years. He died in 2007 at the age of 66.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews

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