George F. Hamner Jr., of Vero Beach, and the late A. Tillis Edwards Jr. and Edward A. Taylor, both of Lakeland, will be inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame in 2022. The inductions will take place during a Citrus Celebration Luncheon scheduled for Oct. 14 at Florida Southern College in Lakeland.
A. TILLIS EDWARDS JR.
Edwards was a lifelong citrus man. He started at age 18 in 1937 going door-to-door buying backyard citrus for his father’s citrus business, Edwards-Pritchett-Tillis, Inc. Edwards expanded that business into a conglomerate that did harvesting, handling, packing, processing and growing. He was president of Edwards Packing Co.; vice-president of Florida Sip, Inc., a citrus processing plant in Plant City; and handled more than 1,000 acres of groves as vice president of Edwards Groves, Inc.
Edwards was president or vice president for multiple industry organizations, including Florida Orange Marketers, Quality Orange Marketers, H.P. Hood & Sons concentrate plant in Dunedin, and Intermediate Harvesters and Handlers Association. He was also a member of the Florida Fresh Citrus Shippers Association, the Florida Citrus Commission (FCC) and the Cotton Exchange Board, where he worked to establish orange juice as a traded commodity on the exchange. As a member of the FCC, he was instrumental in securing a significant promotional agreement with Disney World.
During World War II, Edwards was a civilian flight instructor to British pilots at Lodwick School of Aeronautics in Lakeland.
GEORGE F. HAMNER JR.
Hamner has been a leader for Florida’s fresh citrus industry for 43 years, working closely with state and federal agencies to help bridge governmental, regulatory, grower and shipper communities. He successfully led his family’s fresh fruit packing business, Indian River Exchange Packers, Inc., while also volunteering his time in numerous industry organizations.
Hamner has served as president of Florida Citrus Packers, chairman of the Citrus Administrative Committee, board member of New Varieties Development & Management Corp., president of Florida Citrus Mutual, president and board member of Indian River Citrus League and a member of the Florida Citrus Canker Technical Advisory Task Force. He has hosted trade missions, senior state and federal politicians, international regulatory review teams, emergency response investigators and others to ensure a viable and sustainable industry.
Among many other accomplishments, Hamner was the driving force in developing the Partners in Quality program that saved growers millions of dollars in inspection fees, while maintaining strict quality standards. He was instrumental in expanding sales by helping to develop the protocol for shipping fruit to export markets.
Hamner is never shy about voicing his opinion, passion and enthusiasm for the betterment of the Florida citrus industry.
EDWARD A. TAYLOR
Taylor was the first Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) executive director who had professional marketing expertise. He implemented programs that were based on solid market research, resulting in moving a citrus crop that ranged from 108 million boxes when he started in 1963 to 235 million boxes in 1978.
Taylor was responsible for creative marketing programs that included the iconic “breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine” slogan, the Florida Sunshine Tree symbol and hiring Anita Bryant to be the spokeswoman for Florida citrus. He was also instrumental in establishing a school marketing program for Florida OJ and a food-service program that included McDonald’s serving orange juice as part of its breakfast menu for the first time. He marketed Florida grapefruit and frozen concentrated orange juice internationally through participation in a third-party cooperation plan with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Taylor’s emphasis on marketing led to the FDOC sponsoring the Sunshine Pavilion at Disney World and the creation of the Orange Bird character.
The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame website has much more information about those who have been inducted, as well as numerous oral history videos with longtime industry members.
Tickets to the 2022 Citrus Celebration Luncheon are $125 for patron seating or $1,700 for a sponsor table, which includes preferred seating for eight, table signage and a listing in the program. The event will be followed by the Florida Citrus Processors Association’s OJ Meet and Greet with the inductees. Tickets will be available in January from Florida Citrus Mutual at 863-682-1111 and through the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame website.
Information about sponsorship opportunities may be obtained from Florida Citrus Hall of Fame Executive Director Brenda Eubanks Burnette at 561-351-4314.
Source: Florida Citrus Hall of Fame
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