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The story of a dynamic industry that dominated Lake County for more than 125 years
I seem to focus first on someone's smile, for some reason I believe it tells me a lot about what is behind that expression. Jack had a gentle smile and sure enough beneath it was a gentle person. I did not spend a lot of time with Jack, but enough to know he cared deeply for others. My favorite Jack Ross story involves the Central Florida 4-H Citrus Tree Project. Many of you know that for many years 4-H'ers would get a citrus tree in the spring and grow it all year long. Those that had blue ribbon trees brought them to the fair for the show and then sale of their tree. Many supportive growers would agree to buy a tree and authorized me to take care of buying it for them. This is truly a wonderful thing to do to support the young ladies and gentlemen that have worked hard to grow that tree. Now we always encourage buyers to attend the show and sale to bid themselves, but this difficult for most. However, one grower showed up many years to bid on a tree. You guessed it, Jack Ross. Well not only did Jack buy a citrus tree, he became immersed with a home schooled 4-H family. I do not know all the details, but somehow Jack invited the young horticulturists (more than one child in the family and each was involved with the project over time) to the grove to see how lots of trees were grown. The relationship grew and the grove visit was an important part of the home school experience. Jack was not content to provide financial support to the young man or young lady, he "shared" the entire experience of the citrus industry. Talk about reaching out and touching!
Jerry Chicone, Jack's neighbor and longtime friend shared some of his comments about his fellow grower. "Jack was a 'renaissance' man. He was well read and into a number of hobbies; he knew astrometry and would let us know when the Hubble satellite was going over or when a meteorite shower was to take place, a scientist that had his magnifying glass to check out what bugs were in the groves. A very knowledgeable person. Jack was a true Southern gentleman; he was devoted to his family, practiced his faith and was always courteous. For many years Jack mowed the grass at the Presbyterian Church, reached out to share his faith and was in his pew every Sunday. Jack kept up with current events and knew what was going on in the world as well as the community. And Jack continued to be frugal as well. Never owned a four wheel truck, just moved his railroad tie rear bumper from truck to truck. A true friend I could always count on no matter what the situation."
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