Arthur F. “Art” Mathias (1920-2004)
Lake Alfred Citrus Research & Education Center
Superior Chemical & Fertilizer Company
Haines City Growers Association
Florida Citrus Mutual
Citrus World, Inc.
Incentive & Rebate Program Committee
Florida Council of Farmer Cooperatives
Florida Citrus Canker Technical Advisory Committee
Governor’s Task Force on the Future of Agriculture in Florida
Florida Citrus Commission Industry Pooling Committee
Mechanical Harvesting Committee
Research Advisory Council
Arthur “Art” Mathias spent 42 years as a member of Florida’s citrus community. Originally born in Evansville, Indiana in 1920, Mathias came to Florida as an infant that very same year. His father enjoyed a long career in citrus, most notably as a production manager with the Haines City Growers Association.
Graduating from Haines City High School in 1939, Mathias enrolled in South Georgia Junior College but left the school after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Mathias enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1941, earned his pilot wings, and married the love of his life, Mabel Johnson Mathias, who was better known to her friends as “Butch.” The couple went on to have three children. Mathias became a B-26 instructor and remained in the Air Corps until 1945, when he was discharged as a Captain.
Mathias returned to school, enrolling in the University of Florida College of Agriculture. He graduated with honors at the head of his class in 1947. After graduation, he went to work as an entomologist with the university’s research center in Lake Alfred. He spent three years with the research center before joining Superior Chemical and Fertilizer Company in 1950.
In 1954, Mathias began working for the Haines City Growers Association, the same company that had employed his father for many years. The younger Mathias was placed in charge of the company’s spraying program. He gradually ascended the ranks of the company, spending time as a production manager, assistant general manager, general manager, and then president of the board of directors. During his time at the head of the company, Mathias kept the company up to date, embracing any new technological discoveries which could help combat rising production costs. He made sure that the growers association produced admirable numbers even in the face of adversity.
Mathias also devoted time and energy to numerous other citrus and non-citrus organizations and associations. In 1970, he became a director with Florida Citrus Mutual, serving terms as treasurer, secretary, and vice president before becoming president of the organization in 1979. He also served on the board of Citrus World. Mathias was also chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission’s Industry Pooling Committee, and participated in the Incentive and Rebate Program Committee, the Mechanical Harvesting Committee, and the Research Advisory Council. He acted as Chairmen of Florida’s TVA Educational Fund and was president of both the Florida State Horticultural Society and of the Florida Council of Farmer Cooperatives. He was also a member of both the Florida Citrus Canker Technical Advisory Committee and the Governor’s Task Force on the Future of Agriculture in Florida.
Art Mathias was known for his easy manner throughout many different facets on the industry. His contribution to the Florida citrus industry was recognized in 1990 when he was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame. He died of heart failure on July 7, 2004.