Dr. John Allen Attaway, Sr. (1930)
Attaway graduated from Florida Southern College in 1951 with a B.S., the University of Florida with an M.S. IN 1953, and Duke University where he earned his Ph.D. in 1957. He represented the Florida citrus industry before the EPA, OSHA, and other agencies regarding proposals to cancel the use of EDB as a quarantine fumigant for the Caribbean fruit fly. Attaway also served ten years on the Citrus Juices Subcommission and the Scientific and Technical Commission of the International Fruit Juice Union (IFU) based in Paris.
Lake Alfred Citrus Research and Education Center
Orange Juice Quality
Medical & Nutritional Research Programs
Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare
Carribean Fruit Fly
Mechanical Harvesting Program
Citrus Production Research Marketing Order of 1991
Citrus Juices Subcommission
Scientific & Technical Commission of the International Fruit Juice Union
John Allen Attaway Sr. was born July 19, 1930 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the youngest child of Forrest and Adnette Sneed Attaway. His interest in agriculture started at an early age due to his love of the outdoors. When his family came to Haines City to visit a friend of his mother’s, they fell in love with the area and bought property there. In 1938, his father planted his first orange grove, a 5-acre block in Haines City. John and his brother, Forest, Jr., helped their father in the groves during school vacations.
When John graduated from high school in 1947, the family moved to Haines City and John enrolled in Florida Southern College. He planned to major in chemistry, but also took citrus courses to aid his father in their groves. He graduated in 1951, receiving his Bachelor of Science degree, and was offered a fellowship with the Office of the Military doing research on fluorian compounds.
Attaway continued his education at the University of Florida and Duke University where he earned his Master’s (1953) and his Ph. D. (1957) degrees. At Duke he met and married fellow chemistry graduate student Olga Josefina Sanchez. Employed briefly in West Virginia, Attaway returned to Florida as research chemist at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred. There he worked under Dr. Louis MacDowell, the center’s first Director of Scientific Research. As a research chemist Attaway also worked with C.D. Atkins, and their collaboration resulted in three patents concerning “essence for enhancing the flavor of citrus juices.” These results were important in designing most of the citrus essence recovery equipment still in use today. In 1964, he was promoted to Associate Professor, and four years later promoted again to full professor. When MacDowell stepped down later that year, he was named the Florida Department of Citrus Director of Scientific Research.
His development of a comprehensive program to define orange juice quality by the content of desirable components contributed to taste and flavor. He constantly pushed for the citrus juice industry to maintain high standards that preserved the quality image of Florida juices. He developed new analytical procedures to detect the addition of beet invert sugar, organic acids, and pulpwash solids to citrus juices. This ultimately resulted in the establishment of strict pulpwash regulations and detection procedures. They were crucial in helping to maintain Florida’s high quality franchise by ensuring juice purity thus protecting Florida’s fledgling export programs. He also established the Medical and Nutritional Research Program in the early 70’s to fund research on the health benefits of citrus fruit and juices. The research became the major cornerstone for the FDOC’s “Health and Wellness” advertising program, which is still in use today.
In the late 1970s, Japan refused to admit millions of dollars worth of Florida grapefruit into their country. This was Florida’s first dispute with Japan over pesticide residue. He spent over two weeks with the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare negotiating new sampling and testing procedures. His efforts resulted in saving the majority of the shipment, with less than $100,000 of the multi-million dollar shipment being turned away.
Attaway represented the Florida citrus industry before the EPA, OSHA, and other agencies regarding proposals to cancel the use of EDB as a quarantine fumigant for the Caribbean fruit fly. He led several years of research and efforts to reduce worker exposure to fumigants and reduced pesticide residues on citrus. This helped to perfect the use of cold treatment as the main infestation treatment for the Caribbean fruit fly.
Attaway also led efforts to enhance grapefruit maturity and find a workable fruit-loosening compound that would be conducive for mechanical harvesting programs.
All the while he continued his work on his own family groves, eventually buying his own groves. He and Olga had four children: three boys, John, Jr., Edward, and Frances, and one girl, Susan. All of his children graduated from Duke University courtesy of a 40-acre Murcott block that John owned.
It was due to contacts with the California Citrus Quality Council that Attaway gained the first insight into financing production research through a grower tax. He helped to establish the Citrus Production Research Marketing Order of 1991, which funded research through a grower box tax to find solutions to citrus production problems. As a result, over $1 million per year has been made available to IFAS and USDA scientists to accelerate research on problems affecting growers.
Attaway served ten years on the Citrus Juices Sub-commission and the Scientific and Technical Commission of the International Fruit Juice Union (IFU) based in Paris. He has continued to work with the IFU even after his retirement in 1995 on the objective of harmonizing U.S. regulations with those of the European Union. He was Secretary of the Florida Citrus Research Advisory Council, and Secretary and Trustee of the Florida Citrus Research Foundation from 1968-1995. He is currently the President of the Florida Citrus Research Foundation, a position he has held since 1995.
He was a member of the Florida Department of Citrus Medical and Nutritional Research Advisory Council from 1980 to 1995. From 1988 to 1995 he was a director for the Florida Citrus Sports Association in Orlando, and from 1992 until 1995 he was the Scientific Coordinator for the Citrus Production Research Advisory Council.
He has also been a member of the American Chemical Society, the Institute of Food Technologists, the American Society of Plant Physiologists, the Florida State Horticultural Society, the Newell Entomological Society, Sigma Xi and the Sertoma Club of Winter Haven, which he served as President from 1972-73.
He has authored many publications, including two recent books written after he retired entitled “A History of Florida Citrus Freezes,” published in 1997, and “Hurricanes and Florida Agriculture,” published in 1999. During the course of his career, Dr. Attaway has received numerous awards, including the Plant Protection Award of Eminence from the Florida Department of Agriculture in 1981 for “his distinguished service in support of plant protection programs with special diligence regarding citrus.” In 1988, he received the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association’s Annual Research Award “in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Florida citrus industry in improving the quality of Florida orange juice.” And in 1990, he received the prestigious Confructa Award from the International Fruit Juice Union in Germany for his service “to the fruit juice industry in promoting the quality image of fruit juices.”
In 1991, Dr. Attaway received the Plant Protection Award of Eminence from Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, Doyle Conner, for “his distinguished service in support of plant protection programs with special diligence regarding citrus.” He received the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association’s Annual Research Award in 1988 for his contributions in “improving the quality of Florida orange juice,” and in 1990 received the Confructa Award from the International Fruit Juice Union at the International Fruit Juice Week in Germany for his service “in promoting the quality image of fruit juices.” He is president of his own business, Florida Citrus Consultants International, in Winter Haven, Fla., which he started in 1995.