The selection committee for the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame announced five distinguished leaders will be inducted during the 51st Citrus Celebration Luncheon Feb. 27 at Florida Southern College in Lakeland.
Homer E. Hooks of Lakeland and J. Brantley Schirard of Ft. Pierce, FL, will be honored along with three others who will be inducted posthumously: Col. Francis L. Dancy, Paul L. Harding and Mathew K. Veldhuis.
Col. Dancy was a pioneer citrus grower in the late 1800s, known primarily for the introduction of the Dancy tangerine in 1867, ultimately resulting in tangerines as a marketable variety. As the mayor of St. Augustine in 1838, he was responsible for coordinating the revival of the Florida orange groves after the devastating freeze of 1835 and organized the modern method of orange propagation to maintain varietal character in the 1870s.
Mr. Harding was called the "Father of Maturity Standards," due to research in the 20s that resulted in maturity standards that are still in use today. The maturity standards ensure that fruit is harvested at peak maturity and maintains the quality reputation of the Florida product — both fresh and processed. In terms of duration and beneficial financial impact to industry, his work is without compare. He was one of the first to initiate the consumer taste panel to help with his research. He also served as a research advisor to the Florida Citrus Commission from 1948-68 and as a research advisor to Florida Citrus Mutual from 1950-60.
Mr. Hooks organized the Canners League of Florida at the same time the Citrus Code was adopted in 1949, and he went on to become the executive director of the Florida Citrus Commission. Under his leadership the FCC established innovative marketing efforts and helped initiate federal quality standards for the industry. He was the first to separate the marketing programs for fresh and processed products, which is still the practice today, and helped develop the orange juice symbol and phrase, "The Real Thing from Florida." Mr. Hooks also led the battle against synthetic products such as Tang and Awake that imitated orange juice. With others, he was successful in persuading the Federal Trade Commission to ban their misleading advertising.
Mr. Schirard has been an industry leader for over 25 years and is the president of Schirard Citrus in Ft. Pierce, managing and developing citrus acreage throughout Florida. He has served on the boards of numerous citrus organization in the state, including the Florida Citrus Commission, where he chaired the international committee for six years, the Florida Citrus Packers Association, the Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences Share Council, the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association and the Florida State Horticultural Society. He has served as president of the Indian River Citrus League, Florida Orange Marketers, Florida Citrus Production Managers' Association and Florida Citrus Mutual. His knowledge and leadership skills have benefited facets of the industry in numerous areas, including marketing, packing, processing, research and regulations. His willingness to share his time and talents has resulted in mentoring many within the industry, and he received the Florida Citrus Packers' John T. Lesley Award in 2011 in recognition of his lifetime achievements in the Florida citrus industry. He also received the Commissioner of Agriculture Environmental Achievement Award for his Grassy Island Development.
Mr. Veldhuis was the director of the United States Department of Agriculture Citrus Products & Research lab in Winter Haven, FL, for 28 years and was the director of the USDA team that helped develop frozen concentrated orange juice in collaboration with the Florida Citrus Commission team of scientists. Under his leadership, over 240 scientific and technical publications and patents were issued on fruit and vegetable research. He directed and participated in research that resulted in the development of citrus concentrates, methods for estimating soluble solids in dried citrus pulp, use of pulp with citrus molasses for cattle feed (a current major by-product of the citrus processing industry), methods of freezing purees of citrus fruits, freeze-drying of juice, methods of extraction and testing of oils, development of a citrus sweetener from a bitter compound in grapefruit and preparation of alcoholic beverages from citrus.
The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame honors distinguished leaders who have made significant contributions to the Florida citrus industry. The Citrus Hall of Fame display and archive center is located within the McKay Archive Building at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. For more information on members of the Citrus Hall of Fame, visit www.FloridaCitrusHallofFame.com, which includes access to biographies and photos on all members, noting their accomplishments and including various industry links.
Tickets to the luncheon, which is sponsored by Florida Citrus Mutual and The Florida Department of Citrus, 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. The event will be followed by an OJ "Meet & Greet" with the inductees as they unveil their names on the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame Tree, located in the McKay Archives Center. An educational citrus exhibit will be featured during the month of February and tours of the Citrus Archives will be provided by the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame Fellowship students on the day of the event. Shuttles will provide transportation between the Hollis Wellness Center and the McKay Archives Center, where the main parking lot is located.
To purchase tickets, call Florida Citrus Mutual at 863/682-1111 or visit the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame website at www.FloridaCitrusHallofFame.com. For more information, contact Brenda Eubanks Burnette at 561/351-4314 or John Jackson at 352/267-3227.