PIECES OF THE PAST: Remembering O.C. Minton

Tacy CalliesHistory

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette

MintonI was in Fort Pierce recently doing interviews for an oral history project and ran across some interesting photos and information on O.C. Minton, who was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame in 1982.

A hard worker who was totally dedicated to the Florida citrus industry, Minton’s defining moments came when fighting for identification of Florida-grown citrus. He launched a one-man campaign to get the name “Florida” on every can of Florida citrus product. However, his legacy to the industry itself lives on at the 10,000-square-foot O.C. Minton Hall in the Indian River Field Laboratory and Experiment Station in Fort Pierce, which he helped expand through encouraging the North Saint Lucie River Drainage District to donate 720 acres of land to the state of Florida for citrus industry research.

Born in 1904 in Hastings, Florida, Minton learned about citrus firsthand from his father, who had groves in the area. Minton attended the University of Florida and worked for the Florida East Coast Railroad. In 1933, he joined the NACO Fertilizer Company (a division of the W.R. Grace and Company of New York) as a salesman, eventually rising to be vice president in charge of the company’s Florida operations. He directed the construction of NACO’s fertilizer plant in Fort Pierce in 1951.

MintonIn 1936, Minton planted his first grove in Saint Lucie County, using boats to cross the Header Canal to inspect the land he had chosen. He resigned from NACO in 1954, after purchasing the company’s farm equipment business, which he operated as Minton Equipment Company. His other companies were Minton Groves and Triple M.

Minton served seven years on the Florida Citrus Commission (FCC). He was chairman of the FCC’s Advertising Committee before becoming chairman of the commission in 1953.  It was during his service that the FCC helped spearhead the effort that led to the development of juice concentrate, revolutionizing the citrus industry in Florida. Minton received a Citation of Service from the Florida Agricultural Research Institute for his service to the fertilizer and pesticide industries.

In 1961, Minton was one of 13 directors named to the board of Minute Maid Groves Corporation. He was a charter member of the Indian River Citrus League board as well as a member of Florida Citrus Mutual and the Florida Agricultural Research Institute. In addition, Minton was a charter member of the board and executive committee for Florida Orange Marketers, also serving as its vice president.

Although Minton died in 1969, his impact continues to be felt in the industry through the research being done today. His plaques and resolutions can be seen at the Indian River Research and Education Center, located at 2199 South Rock Road in Fort Pierce.

Share Your Stories

If you have any photos, memorabilia or stories you’d like to share or donate to the Citrus Archives, please contact Brenda Eubanks Burnette at BBurne1003@aol.com or (561) 351-4314. Visit www.FloridaCitrusHallofFame.com to see photos, postcards, citrus labels and videos.florida citrus

Brenda Eubanks Burnette is executive director of the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame. Pieces of the Past is presented in partnership with Florida Southern College’s McKay Archives Center in Lakeland.

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