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The story of a dynamic industry that dominated Lake County for more than 125 years
Phil Cross called a couple months ago to let me know Whit Chase died in mid May. My main interaction with Whit was when he served as Senator Bob Graham’s agricultural advisor. The National Weather Service stopped making agricultural forecasts in 1996 and Whit was a member of the state’s Ag Weather Task Force established to deal with the issue. Bottom line, the task force obtained funding from the State of Florida that allowed us to establish Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN). I am sure you have heard the story many times.
Whit was a member of the well known Chase family. They were involved with many phases of agriculture throughout the state. Citrus and vegetables in Central Florida were a big part of their operation for well over 100 ears. He was a graduate of Rollins and for many years ran the citrus operation at Isleworth in Windemere. He was on Haines City CGA board and involved in many aspects of the industry. He was an early research cooperator with USDA (I believe he and Dr. Paul Smith worked very closely on nutrition studies).
The freezes of 1983 and 1985 confirmed it was time to sell the extremely desirable and valuable land at Isleworth. In 1985 the family sold their groves to Arnold Palmer. What was once a top notch grove became an exclusive residential area with many well known and infamous inhabitants!
Whit was a kind, quiet gentlemen. He was a strong supporter of FAWN and used his position with Senator Graham to lobby the state legislature for funds. I would interact with Whit every so often on various projects. He was always willing to help and a most knowledgeable source of information.
I talked with him not too long ago. He retired at last to the family Jumpie Run timber farm in the Monticello area. He wanted to make the trip back for a Mature Mentors meeting, but time ran out for Whit. He was a remarkable gentleman that was a huge asset to agriculture. He brought a rich heritage and was always willing to step forward and share his knowledge and contacts.
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