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Florida Citrus Hall of Fame announces 2011 inductees

by Chip Carter | January 25, 2011
The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame announced Jan. 17 its 2011 class of inductees. The ceremonies will take place March 4 as part of the annual Citrus Celebration Luncheon at the hall's permanent home at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, FL, to honor R. William (Bill) Becker, Edgar S. Beeland (deceased), Robert C. (Bob) Bullock, and Frank W. Savage (deceased).

The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame was established in 1962 to pay tribute to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the Florida citrus industry. Seventeen nominees were inducted the first year, and the hall now has more than 150 members.

The hall recently partnered with Florida Southern College to create a permanent home and make Florida's citrus history more accessible to the public. The hall display is located at the recently completed Sarah D. and L. Kirk McKay Jr. Archives Center on the campus of Florida Southern, which also houses the state of Florida Citrus Archives, the Florida Southern College Archives, the Gov. Lawton M. Chiles Jr. Center for Florida History, the Frank Lloyd Wright collection and the Ruth K. and Charles T. Thrift Jr. Florida United Methodist Heritage Center.

This year's inductees cover the spectrum of the Florida citrus industry, touching eras from the late 1800s through the turn of the 21st century.

The late Mr. Savage is considered to have been Florida's first grower- cooperator. In 1892, he began working with two U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists, Hall of Fame member Walter T. Swingle and Hubert John Webber, to establish the first citrus research facility in the world. Mr. Savage constructed laboratories in two rooms at his home and participated in all of the field work and citrus research. The work done there led to the development of citrus varieties that are still popular today, like the Orlando and Minneola tangelos and the Swingle rootstock. When the 1894-95 freeze devastated the Florida citrus industry, the scientists returned to Washington. Mr. Savage continued their work through regular correspondence with the scientists. Because of his commitment to continuing the research programs established by Messrs. Swingle and Webber, those two laboratory rooms eventually became a plant evaluation facility, the A.H. Whitmore Foundation Farm, where extensive breeding work is still done today to develop new and improved varieties and rootstocks of citrus.

The late Mr. Beeland's service to the Florida citrus industry spanned more than 70 years as he helped advance the industry as a packer, processor and grower. He started his career in 1928 with Kissimmee Citrus Growers Association before moving to Clearwater Growers Association as general manager, where he remained for 28 years, taking three years off to serve with the Air Force during World War II. He went on to become executive vice president and general manager of Winter Haven Citrus Growers Association, a position he held for 22 years. He served on the boards of Citrus World, Seald- Sweet, Highlands-Exchange Service Cooperative and Florida Citrus Packers, and was a founding member of Citrus Self-Insurers Fund, which he chaired for 20 years. He was also president of Florida Citrus Packers. In 1991 he was awarded the prestigious John T. Lesley Award of Excellence for his leadership and many contributions to the industry.

Mr. Becker is president and owner of Peace River Citrus Products Inc. in Vero Beach, FL. He served as a member of the Florida Citrus Commission under two governors, Democrat Bob Graham (1985-1988) and Republican Bob Martinez (1988-1991. He served as chairman of the FCC for five terms (1986-1991). He is a past president of both the Florida Citrus Processors' Association and the National Juice Products Association, and is a past member of the Florida Citrus Production Managers Association. A tenacious advocate for growers and processors, Mr. Becker always kept the industry's best interests in focus. Said Hall of Fame selection committee member Brantley Schirard, "Many have attained financial success in the industry, but Bill has given of his success to help others. He is more than deserving of the honor."

Dr. Bullock, a research entomologist at the IFAS research center in Ft. Pierce for more than 35 years, was known as the "growers' teacher" for his hands-on knowledge of citrus production and development of integrated pest management practices. He pioneered aerial spraying with fixed-winged aircraft for a number of pesticides as well as the application techniques for now-well-known products like Bayer Crop Science's "Temik" and "Admire." He was also an innovator and advocate of balancing the use of chemicals with natural resources for environmental protection. Inducted as an honorary member of the Florida State Horticultural Society in 2008, Dr. Bullock was "always just a phone call away" when growers needed help with pest management concerns, said induction committee member S.J. (Buddy) Johnson.

The March 4 luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. and is sponsored by Florida Citrus Mutual and the Florida Department of Citrus. Tickets are available by calling 863/682-1111 and are $50 for general admission, $100 for reserved patron seating or $1,000 for a sponsor table, which includes preferred seating for eight, table signage and a listing in the program.

Lunch will be followed by a "meet and greet" with the surviving honorees as the names of this year's inductees are unveiled on the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame Tree. A citrus memorabilia display will be featured as well as oral history presentations about Hall of Fame members and tours of the citrus archives. For more information , visit