~ Honorees include 23 entrepreneurs, doctors, military heroes, humanitarians, artists, athletes and more ~
Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the 2013 class of Great Floridians, a prestigious group of men and women who have made significant contributions to the progress and prosperity of Florida. The 23 honorees from the 2013 class include entrepreneurs, doctors, military heroes, humanitarians, artists, Florida Supreme Court Justices, athletes and more.
Governor Scott said, “It is an honor to present the 2013 class of Great Floridians with this prestigious award. Throughout their lives each of them has proven to be a true humanitarian and a compassionate leader in their respective communities. I look forward to seeing how each of them continues to shape Florida’s future generations and help Florida families.”
“I am very proud to recognize these 23 truly Great Floridians whose talents and generosity have helped make Florida a better place to live and be successful,” said Secretary Detzner. “This year’s honorees represent the largest class of Great Floridians, and I look forward to seeing how their collective contributions continue to positively influence future generations.”
Only 89 individuals since 1981 have been named Great Floridians. Under Florida Statute 267.0731, an ad hoc committee, comprised of representatives of the Governor, each member of the Florida Cabinet, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Florida Secretary of State, meets to nominate citizens for designation as a Great Floridian. Following the nomination process, the Secretary of State selects no fewer than two nominees to be officially named a Great Floridian.
The 2013 class of Great Floridians includes:
Justice Alto Lee Adams
Florida Supreme Court Justice (1940-1951 and 1967-1968) Alto Lee Adams, Sr. served as Chief Justice from 1949 to 1951. With his son, Alto “Bud” Adams, Jr., he founded the Adams Ranch in 1937. Today the Adams Ranch is one of America’s premier cattle breeding and herding operations, and is world renowned for its stewardship of the land, wildlife and water resources.
Pensacola native Derrick Brooks played for the Florida State Seminoles football team before going on to play 14 years for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he helped the team win a Super Bowl. Considered one of the best linebackers in NFL history, Brooks is now dedicated to his charity work and education advocacy.
Charles H. Bronson
Charles H. Bronson is a fifth-generation Florida cattle rancher who served as Florida’s 10th Agriculture Commissioner, from 2001 to 2010. Under his leadership the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services implemented innovative programs to promote Florida agricultural products, protect the state’s natural resources and safeguard Florida agriculture against pests and diseases.
Dr. James Robert Cade
In 1965, Dr. James Robert Cade led a team of researchers at the University of Florida who developed a drink containing salts and sugars that could be absorbed more quickly by athletes, creating the basis for Gatorade. Among Cade’s many inventions are the first shock-dissipating football helmet and a method for treating autism and schizophrenia through diet modification. The Cade Museum for Creativity + Invention in Gainesville is named after him.
Walter Elias “Walt” Disney
With his brother Roy, Walter Elias “Walt” Disney co-founded Walt Disney Productions, one of the world’s best-known motion-picture production companies. The success in 1955 of their Disneyland theme park in California inspired Walt to lay plans for development of the even larger Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando opened on October 1, 1971, forever changing the state.
One of the most respected and popular coaches in the National Football League, Tony Dungy is a former professional football player and retired coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Indianapolis Colts. During his seven years leading the Colts, he became the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl.
Justice Richard W. Ervin
Elected as Florida’s Attorney General in 1948, Richard W. Ervin remained in that office until his appointment to the Florida Supreme Court in 1964, where he served as Chief Justice from 1969 to 1971 and sat until 1975. Among his many achievements, he helped create the Florida Highway Patrol, and is most recognized for the role he played in implementing Florida’s desegregation process during the 1960s, ensuring Florida’s leadership in the so-called New South.
Dr. Pedro Jose Greer, Jr.
Physician and Chair of the Department of Humanities, Health and Society at the Florida International University School of Medicine Dr. Pedro José Greer, Jr. is founder of the Camillus Health Concern, which delivers health services to thousands of homeless people and the St. John Bosco Clinic, which serves disadvantaged people in Little Havana.
William Dawson “Bill” Gunter, Jr. served as a member of the Florida State Senate from 1966 to 1972, where he supported Florida’s “Government in the Sunshine” law, stronger laws for land and water management and advocated solar energy research and development. He was elected to serve in the United States House of Representatives from 1973 to 1975, and from 1976 to 1988 he served as Florida’s insurance commissioner, treasurer and fire marshal.
Successful businessman and entrepreneur Wayne Huizenga is the founder of three Fortune 500 corporations. With a single garbage truck in Fort Lauderdale in 1968, he began Waste Management, Inc., followed by the development of two more of the country’s most successful companies, Blockbuster Video and AutoNation. As the initial owner of the Florida Marlins and Florida Panthers, Huizenga is notable for introducing both baseball and hockey to the South Florida area.
Juan Ponce de León
Written records about life in Florida began with the arrival of the Spanish explorer and adventurer Juan Ponce de León. After being granted royal permission to explore lands to the northwest of Puerto Rico, Ponce de León waded ashore on the east coast of Florida on or around April 2, 1513. He called the land La Florida, in honor of the lush plant life and in honor of Pascua Florida, the Eastertime Spanish Feast of Flowers taking place at the time of his arrival.
Charlotte Maguire, MD
Recognized today as the “Mother of the FSU Medical School,” Dr. Charlotte Maguire grew up in Orlando and earned her medical degree in 1944 from the University of Arkansas, where she was the only woman in her class. During her groundbreaking career, she also served as a delegate to the 1957 World Health Conference in London in 1957, and as one of the highest ranking women in the federal government under the Nixon Administration.
General Craig McKinley
Jacksonville native, and recently retired four-star general, General Craig McKinley was the first Chief of the National Guard Bureau to hold a position on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In this capacity, he was a military adviser to the President, the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council and was the Department of Defense’s official channel of communication to the Governors and to State Adjutants General on all matters pertaining to the National Guard. McKinley is now president of the Air Force Association.
Lillian Pulitzer Rousseau was the founder of Lilly Pulitzer, Inc., a company producing clothing and other wares featuring bright, colorful, floral prints. Her signature design was inspired by attempts to cover juice stains after handling produce from her family’s citrus grove. The popular brand, established in the late 1950s and manufactured in Miami and Key West, was revived in the late 1990s and continues to enjoy success and popularity today.
General Norman Schwarzkopf
Four-star general and commander of the U.S. Central Command, General Norman Schwarzkopf graduated from West Point and fought in the Vietnam War. He became a four-star general and commander of the U.S. Central Command, commanding forces in Grenada and the Persian Gulf War. Gen. Schwarzkopf helped found Camp Boggy Creek in Eustis, a camp for seriously ill kids and their families.
One of ten founding members of Straight, Inc. a nonprofit drug treatment program, Betty S. Sembler has dedicated the past three decades to fighting the war on drugs. As the founder and president of Save Our Society From Drugs (S.O.S.) and the Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. she has participated in the White House Conference for a Drug Free America, served as a member of the Governor’s Drug Policy Task Force in Florida and as a board member of DARE Florida (Drug Abuse Resistance Education).
As coach of the Miami Dolphins from 1970 to 1995, Don Shula led his team to two Super Bowl victories and to the National Football League’s only perfect season. He holds the NFL record for most career wins with 347.
Considered one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, Emmitt Smith played college football for the University of Florida, where he was an All-American. A first-round pick in the 1990 NFL Draft, he played professionally as a running back in the NFL for 15 seasons during the 1990s and 2000s. Smith is the only running back to ever win a Super Bowl championship, the NFL Most Valuable Player award, the NFL rushing crown and the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award all in the same season (1993). He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
Patrick D. Smith
A Mississippi-born author who moved to Florida in 1966, Patrick D. Smith has written four novels set in Florida. Smith was inducted into the 1999 Florida Artists Hall of Fame and has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize, in 1973 for Forever Island; in 1978 for Angel City; and in 1984 for his best known and most beloved work, A Land Remembered.
As a player for the University of Florida, Steve Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy in 1966. As a coach, he led the University of Florida Gators football team to six Southeastern Conference championships and a consensus national championship in 1996.
As a high school senior quarterback in Ponte Vedre, Tim Tebow was ranked among the top quarterback prospects in the nation. At the University of Florida, he helped the Florida Gators win the national championship during the 2006 college football season. During the 2007 season, he became the first college sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. In 2008, he led the Florida Gators to their second national championship in three years, and was named the offensive MVP of the national championship game.
Gerry Lester “Bubba” Watson, Jr.
Gerry Lester “Bubba” Watson, Jr., born and raised in Bagdad, Florida (near Pensacola), is a professional golfer on the PGA Tour. Watson won the 2012 Masters Tournament after defeating Louis Oosthuizen on the second sudden death playoff hole. The win elevated Watson to a career-high fourth place in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Ruth Springer Wedgworth
Ruth Springer Wedgworth came to Palm Beach County in 1930 as the wife of an agricultural scientist. She built a small family farm into one of the state’s most prominent agribusinesses. Known as an innovator, she was a key organizer of the Florida Celery Exchange, and has been named Woman of the Year in Agriculture by Progressive Farmer Magazine, received a Distinguished Service Award from the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association and was named Woman of the Year in Florida Agriculture.
For information about previous Great Floridians, please visit http://www.flheritage.com/preservation/floridian/.