James Richard “Rip” Graves (1907-1999)
Graves Brothers Company
Indian River County
Plymouth Citrus Products Cooperative
Florida Citrus Mutual
Farm Credit Banks
Florida Citrus Packers
Florida Citrus Canners (Florida Citrus Processors)
Citrus Central, Inc.
James Richard “Rip” Graves was born March 22, 1907, in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. After graduating from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Accounting and Economics in 1929, Graves began his career as a bookkeeper with Graves Brothers Company, which was founded by his father and uncle in 1895. The onset of Great Depression forced Graves to accept a position as a distributor for Sinclair Oil Company to help make ends meet. During World War Two, the oil business was curbed to meet war demands and Graves worked at the U.S Naval Air Base in Vero Beach, Florida, until he volunteered for the Coast Guard Auxiliary. In 1946, Graves and his father, James Edwin Graves, bought out his uncle’s share in the company and “Rip” took over as president of the Graves Brothers Company and its 2,500 acres of citrus production. The company’s holdings dwindled during the Great Depression; however, under Graves’s leadership the company once again began to expand its holdings in the late 1960s and early 1970s into southern Indian River County.
James Graves’ involvement in the Florida citrus industry extended beyond the family business as well. He served as president of the Plymouth Citrus Products Cooperative in 1950 and as vice president of the citrus section for the Florida State Horticultural Society in 1953. Graves also served as director of the Florida Citrus Mutual during the 1960s and took over as president in 1976. In addition, Graves served as director and chairman of Farm Credit Banks of Columbia in South Carolina during the 1960s and early 1970s, as well as on the board of directors of Florida Citrus Packers and Florida Citrus Canners (now called Florida Citrus Processors). Graves helped organize Citrus Ventral in 1963, and served as its president and chairman from 1964 to 1985. Graves supported endowment and scholarships at the University of Florida’s Institute of Good and Agricultural Sciences and at Florida Southern College to improve research aimed at bettering the citrus industry.
James Richard “Rip” Graves was recognized for his contributions to the Florida Citrus industry by several Florida agricultural commissioners, as well as many United States agriculture secretaries. Graves officially retired and handed over ownership of Graves Brothers Company to his son, James R. Graves, Jr., and daughter, Elizabeth Bass, in 1976. James Richard “Rip” Graves passed away in Vero Beach, Florida, on May 15, 1999 and was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame in 1972.