If you were not close to Billy you would describe him as quiet and very unassuming. If you knew a little more, then you were aware of his love of golf and that he was an excellent master of the game (some say that he was good enough for the PGA tour). I have a few more things to add, but since he was a quiet and unprentous gentlemen I have no stories. I know that whenever I visited him at his office in Oakland, I marveled how anyone could keep a work place so immaculate. I would head down the road to see Bill Matthews to feel much better. Shall I say Bill M office was far more disorganized than mine! I guess that kills any theory about a cluttered office means a cluttered mind for Bill Matthews certainly did not have a cluttered mind. As for me that might hold true. If I could not find something in my office in 5 minutes it was lost!
Now back to Billy. Frankie Rogers worked with him for 20 years. Phil Cross was in high school with him in Winter Garden. So I asked them to tell me about Billy Arrington.
The Billy I knew was easy spoken and very rarely raised his voice. He was easy to work for and I always wanted to please him and do the best I could for him because of the support he gave me. I learned a lot from Billy and he had great patience with me. I worked 20 plus years for Billy Arrington and 20 years for Nick Faryna and found both a pleasure to work for. Yes Billys office was neat but he was neat in many more ways. He loved his golf and I often said he hired me because I didn't! He will be missed!---Frankie Rogers
Billy, his brother Charles, and I grew up in Oakland together. Billy graduated from Lakeview High School and Florida Southern College. I seem to recall he originally went to FSU. He later switched to Florida Southern College and majored in Citrus. I checked my 1960 Yearbook. He graduated in 1960. He played basketball his freshman and sophomore years, then switched to baseball his junior and senior years. He was also a member of the Beta Club and Honor Society.---Phil Cross
I noticed in the obit that Billy was in the Navy. Frankie said all he remembers Billy commenting on about his Navy was “that he painted the ship and when finished he started all over again!” I guess that eliminates him from serving in combat, but I am sure his job was challenging, dangerous, and rewarding – at least that is what I would tell my grand children.
I remember several meetings on the Lake Apopka drawdown to “save” the lake. I do not remember Billy getting excited or upset or agitated at any of those meetings. Now Dan McKinnon was a different story. Dan was just the opposite. He would work that cigar and always was excited, upset or agitated. Many times he was a lot more than that and he did not mind expressing his opinion.
In summary it appears that what you saw with Billy was who is was. A quiet gentleman, compassionate boss, supportive friend and loved golf. I have a feeling he was just the same at home; a loving and supportive husband, son, father, and grandfather.
Billy followed his father at South Lake Apopka Growers as General Manager. When the coop became a marketing only organization Billy went to Winter Haven as manager of FOM. Billy would not have been someone the tabloids would have enjoyed. Basically; as both Phil, Frankie and myself note, he was a quiet, supportive, organized and warm guy. He was truly one of the “good” folks in our industry.