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Mickey was a man of many hats, which means he was comfortable, enjoyed and excelled at a number of roles. Another way to describe Mickey is to say there were at least 6 places he loved to be.
First Mickey always liked to be in the woods hunting. Deer, turkey, dove were all on his menu. His goal was to be able to retire to Georgia where he could hunt far more often than he was able to do while still attending to his other tasks in Apopka. I experienced his enthusiasm for the woods and the hunt only one time. Rex Clonts took us turkey hunting and Mickey was going to get his turkey. I got mine quickly (I use a 400mm lens on my camera and can reach out and bring them in range). It took Mickey a little longer as he had to crawl quite a ways, through a barbed wire fence, between dog fennel and around cabbage palms. He was successful don’t ya know in spite of the minor cuts.
Second place; Mickey was always at home in a crowd. He loved to visit and share stories for hours. He could give and receive equally well. Mickey always had a story or two to tell and was a great listener. He laughed just as hard at your stories as he did his own. Mickey and Phyllis were part of a small group that got together about every month for dinner. They always arrived a little late, but it did not take long for both to become engaged in the conversation(s). They enjoyed being with other folks and just talking. Mickey was always warm and sincere. He was the real deal, no pretenses, just someone that loved everyone and was fun to be around.
Third place; I know Mickey was the drummer for the church band. Unfortunately I never heard him play, but I am sure he did so with enthusiasm and a smile. There was no doubt that Mickey loved Jesus. He was a child of God and a practicing Christian. He knew Jesus and showed Jesus in many ways. It was so easy for him to talk about his faith and the role it played in his life, but he was not one to cram it down someone’s throat. He lived his faith and would take advantage of every opportunity to share it with others. His life reflected his Savior.
Number four; Mickey liked helping others. When the freezes of the 80’s forced him to think about his future in the citrus business, Mickey decided he would explore a second career as a nurse. He attended UCF and completed the nursing program. Do you realize just how much of a challenge that was to anyone, much less a man old enough to be the father of most of his fellow students! Not only did Mickey graduate and pass all the tests to be a registered nurse (RN), he helped many of his classmates make it as well. Mickey would gather old computers and take them to the church where a group of men would refurbish them. Mickey then would give them to young nursing students that could not afford a computer. This way the recipient did not have to go to the library or computer lab to get their work done. For Mickey it was about others, not self. When they announced his name at graduation the loudest cheer arose as his fellow students honored him with their voices of appreciation and admiration. Those in the audience joined the chorus for we knew the sacrifice and effort it took for him to earn that second degree. Mickey loved helping people, whether sick or not they were important to him.
I knew Mickey best in his citrus hat. The fifth place he loved being was in a grove. He loved working with grove owners. He loved growing citrus and marketing citrus. The first citrus career he had was involved with pesticide sales working for a large national company helping with field trials. Then he started his own management company and looked after groves for several growers. He did it all: drove a tractor, developed budgets, checked for bugs, sold fruit, purchased fertilizer/pesticides and all those many tasks a caretaker has to do to be successful.
After the freezes when it looked like Mickey might become a nurse not a grower, he assumed the role of the grove manager of Mid Florida Citrus Foundation. He was made for the job! However, there was one issue we had to overcome. Mickey was focused on maximizing returns for his growers and brought that mind set to MFCF. It took several refresher courses to remind him the purpose of a research grove was to find answers not make money. Of course the foundation always needed funds so if he could find the best price for the crop, that is what he did. Mickey knew how to interact with researchers and growers. He was a key to many research projects and did a remarkable job as MFCF grove manager.
Mickey and Phyllis loved to attend the Central Florida Fair each year! Mickey would help judge 4-H citrus trees. He was a natural with the young horticulturists. He excelled in asking questions about their trees and cultural program, listening intently and offering positive feedback. After the trees were judged, he then had a great time with the auction. We sold all the blue ribbon trees and Mickey was one of the bidders. The best part of this activity? Mickey was spending someone else’s money as he was one of several proxy bidders. Ask Bill Lennon how it operates as he is another fantastic judge/bidder. Mickey enjoyed this event. After the show and sale we had to visit the midway for sausage/peppers/onions and a funnel cake. He and Phyllis were kids again as they enjoyed a “night out”.
I know that Mickey’s favorite place was with Phyllis! They were like a hot fudge sundae. Each one was good by themselves, but together they were simply fantastic. When you add a cherry (Brandon) to the dish nothing can compare.
Mickey was outstanding no matter what hat he was wearing. Always warm, friendly, sincere, sharing, helpful passionate, loving… each of you can add many more adjectives to describe this remarkable man.
I suggest you take a few minutes to reflect, close your eyes and picture Mickey in one of the many hats with which you were most familiar. Look close! I bet he is smiling – don’t ya know!
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