Barnard Kilgore (1877-1961)
Florida Citrus Commission
Florida Citrus Mutual
Barnard Kilgore, better known as “Barney,” was born in Pinellas County in 1877. Twenty years later, he started his first grove. This grove was only the first of many that he acquired in what would come to be known as one of the finest collections of groves in the country. As for the man who assembled the collection, Kilgore was widely recognized as the leading grower and packinghouse operator in Clearwater for more than 40 years.
Kilgore was known for possessing unusual powers of observation, as well as a quick analytical mind. He applied these skills to the art of citrus growing, which helped him to develop many original citrus practices, as well as the promotion and protection of all phases of the industry.
On numerous occasions, he worked in Tallahassee on behalf of citrus legislation, leading to him being recognized as one of the most influential men in the industry. This was most evident in the important role he played in the formation of the Florida Citrus Commission, for which he contributed to the formulation and passage of legislation creating the agency. When the organization became operational, Kilgore was appointed to serve on the first Florida Citrus Commission.
Kilgore was also one of the original “founding fathers” of Florida Citrus Mutual, playing a very large role in the organization’s creation as well as the important task of recruiting members for what was dubbed a “super cooperative.” Thanks to his efforts, the organization grew to be one of the largest of its kind in the world, encompassing over 13,000 members at its peak. He also played a role in The Fruitman’s Association, serving as its Vice President.
Barnard Kilgore died in 1961. He became one of the first inductees of the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame two years later, in 1963.