Ben Hill Griffin III
Ben Hill Griffin III, 78, passed away peacefully on Saturday, July 25, 2020, at his home in Frostproof, Florida.
Ben Hill was born on March 3, 1942, in Lake Wales, Florida to Ben Hill Griffin Jr. and L. Frances Griffin. He was a lifetime resident of Polk County, Frostproof, Florida.
He graduated from Frostproof High School in 1960, received his associate of arts degree from College of Central Florida in Ocala, Florida and attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. He also served with the Florida Army National Guard.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Ben Hill Griffin, Jr. and L. Frances Griffin Mulcay; and son, Brett Thomas Griffin. He is survived by his children, Kathryn “Kitty” Griffin Rogers (John L), Ben “Hill” Griffin IV (Pia) and Candace “Candy” Griffin Denton (Andy); his grandchildren, LaRa Rogers Yates (Mike), Mara, Margo, Maddy, Julia and Olivia Rogers, Ava, Brett and Grant Griffin, Lydia, Lilah and Luke Denton; and great-granddaughter, Emerson Yates; his siblings, Harriett Griffin Harris and children (Katherine, Walt and Fran), Sarah Jane Griffin Alexander and children (JD, Laura Grace and Nancy), Lucy Anne Griffin Collier (Wayne) and children (Cynthia and Baxter) and Francie Griffin Milligan (Dave) and children (Elisabeth, Rebecca and Laura).
Ben Hill Griffin III was chairman of the board and CEO of Ben Hill Griffin, Inc. in Frostproof, Florida. He began his career in agriculture with Ben Hill Griffin, Inc. on June 15, 1960, where he worked until his death (60 years of service).
He was past chairman of the board and CEO of Alico, Inc. (1989-2004) and Orange-Co, Inc. (1991-1999); past director of SunTrust Bank, Inc. in Orlando, Florida; SunTrust Bank Mid/Florida, N.A. in Lakeland, Florida; Citrus & Chemical Bank in Bartow, Florida; Highlands County Bank in Avon Park, Florida; and Citrus World, Inc. in Lake Wales, Florida.
Ben Hill served as state director of the Florida Citrus Showcase, and was a director, University of Florida Board of Overseers for the Health Science Center. He also served on the Orange Bowl Committee in Miami, Florida.
He was a past trustee for the Board of Trustees of Winter Haven Hospital, Inc. and past trustee and member of the First Presbyterian Church of Frostproof. He was past president and member of the board of Seald-Sweet Growers, Inc. in Tampa, Florida; Florida Citrus Processors Association in Winter Haven, Florida; Florida Citrus Packers; past chairman and member of the Florida Citrus Commission; Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association; Citrus Associates of the New York Cotton Exchange; National Juice Products Association (past vice president); executive committee of the Florida Ag Council; Polk County Education Foundation; Florida Agriculture Museum; Shrine Member Egypt Temple in Tampa, Florida; CREW Trust (Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed); and past chairman – Polk County Zoning Board of Adjustment in Bartow, Florida.
He was a member of the Florida Citrus Showcase Hall of Fame Selection Committee; the Florida Council of 100; board member and past chairman of the Florida Land Council; Florida Legal Foundation, Inc.; Gator Boosters, Inc. (Bull Gator); University of Florida Foundation, Inc., SHARE Council; Honorary “F” Club Member – Gator Boosters, Inc. and Florida Gulf Coast University Foundation.
He was featured in the Southwest Florida Business Publication in April 2000, Gulfshore Life in February 1994; The Tampa Tribune article on Nov. 6, 1994, “Citrus King;” and the Ft. Myers News Press article in Aug. 25, 1997, Ben Hill Griffin, III – Alico, Inc. and Nov. 16, 1992, “Fulfilling the Legacy.”
The Lee County Board of County Commission renamed Tree Line Boulevard to Ben Hill Griffin Parkway in appreciation of Ben Hill Griffin III’s leadership referencing the Florida Gulf Coast University site selection in Nov. 15, 1997, in which he donated 1,000 acres to found the Florida Gulf Coast University. Also under his leadership, he directed Alico, Inc. to give $5 million to found the Alico Arena at FGCU Gymnasium.
Ben Hill Griffin III was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame in 2009, the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Frostproof High School Hall of Fame in 2010.
Marion Nelson Funeral Home will be in charge of the service.
Due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines, the funeral service will be private. Condolences can be posted and sent privately to the family through the online guestbook at marionnelson.com. A delayed recording of the service will be available at a later date for those wishing to watch and be a part of his celebration of life.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Ben Hill Griffin III to the First Presbyterian Church of Frostproof – Building Fund, P. O. Box 126, Frostproof, FL 33843 or Cornerstone Hospice, 2445 Lane Park Road, Tavares, FL 32778.