top of page
The story of a dynamic industry that dominated Lake County for more than 125 years
John Heist operator of family grove in Tangerine area and lived in Lake Jem. He was a different kind of guy. Did a lot of the grove work himself. John grew up in a grove and went to UF to earn his degree (big Gator fan). He was active in Ice House Players in Mt. Dora, a theatrical group. John had a way of viewing a problem from several different angles. He never seemed content to follow the path everyone else followed until he had checked other options. Once he was convinced he was on the best plan for his groves he then moved forward. Like many of us John had some great ideas that did not materialize. He had a navel grapefruit in his grove. I am guessing it was a natural mutation from a Marsh. The tree produced numerous fruit that were nice and flat and large and of excellent quality. John envisioned growing, packing and marketing this magnificent fruit in niche markets around the country. He proceeded to propagate the trees and plant a 10 acres grove (think it was 10 acres). Once the trees were in production he found a packer that would pick and pack the fruit. However, John could not develop the demand for his navel grapefruit. I was a huge fan and would take the long way home to stop by the grove for a bag on navel grapefruit (with John’s permission of course). Remnants of the grove remain if any of you want to grow white grapefruit! In John’s later years he withdrew. I talked with him a couple of times. Same guy as far as his ideas, namely have they checked this out, have they tried to do this, etc. He would have lunch at Alice’s Dinner (the name has changed several times over the years – it is the only place close to Lake Jem to eat). I was told he would arrive late to miss the crowd. Sent John a Christmas card every year. He was the kind of person that encouraged you to think outside the box. Different kind of grower, but one I enjoyed discussing issues with over the years.
Return to Community Leaders
bottom of page