Citrus Leadership: Three Honored for a Combined 143 Years of Service
Lakeland Ledger – January 28, 2012
LAKELAND | The three men in the 2012 Florida Citrus Hall of Fame class have a combined 143 years of service to their industry, virtually their entire adult lives.
“They’ve served a lifetime devoted to the citrus industry,” said James Ellis, an administrator for citrus bonding and licensing at the Winter Haven office of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and a member of the Hall of Fame selection committee. “They’ve shown their passion for the industry.
The Citrus Hall of Fame, now in its 50th year, has honored 167 citrus leaders.
This year’s group represents a diversity of interests within Florida citrus, Ellis added.
Frank Hunt II, 83, is chairman of the Board at his family’s citrus business, Hunt Bros. Inc. in Lake Wales, which runs one of Florida’s largest fresh citrus packinghouses. He also served for 30 years as chairman at Citrus World Inc., the Lake Wales juice processor, where he oversaw the creation and expansion of the Florida’s Natural Growers brand, the nation’s third largest OJ label.
W. Bernard Lester, 73, of Lakeland worked for 19 years at the Florida Department of Citrus, the last seven years as executive director. As head of the state agency charged with marketing Florida citrus products, particularly orange juice, Lester navigated through many challenges, including devastating freezes, trade and tariff issues and increased competition from imports.
Robert Barben, 91, an Avon Park grower for 62 years, has a passion for learning and has worked tirelessly to raise money for the University of Florida and for citrus research, including helping to raise almost $2 million for a new building at UF’s Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred. He was a founding member of the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association and other agriculture groups.
The induction will occur at a March 2 luncheon at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, where the hall is located.