Frank Lechter Roper (1892-1976)
During Roper’s time with the Floria Citrus Commision, he advocated high quality fresh fruit, refused efforts to add sugar to frozen concentrated orange juice, and traveled around the world to promote Florida’s citrus industry. Roper also organized the Florida Department of Citrus field service offices.
Roper Brother, Inc.
Mediterranean Fruit Fly
Florida Citrus Commission
Florida Department of Citrus Field Services
Frank Lechter Roper was born a third generation Floridian February 21, 1892. Roper’s grandfather, W.C. Roper, moved from Georgia to Lake Apopka where he grew citrus on 600 acres. Roper and his brothers worked in the family’s various citrus ventures before the two eldest brothers joined together to create Roper Brothers Inc. Instead of joining his brothers on their citrus venture, Roper served with the U.S. Navy during World War I. When he returned from service, Roper joined with another of his brothers to purchase and run a citrus grove in 1918. On April 12, 1920, Roper married Mary Ellen McAllister. In 1922, Roper joined his brothers in Roper Brothers Inc.
The Roper family suffered severe losses in 1929 when their trees were condemned and burned in an effort to eradicate the Medfly. This loss was followed by the Great Depression which nearly financially ruined the Roper family. World War II brought new economic opportunities, and Roper was able to capitalize and sell large quanties of fruit and products during the war years. In honor of his days in the Navy, Roper sold fruit under the label Full Ahead and Ship Ahoy brands. During this time, Roper served as the chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission.
During Roper’s time with the Commission, he advocated high quality fresh fruit, refused efforts to add sugar to frozen concentrated orange juice, and traveled around the world to promote Florida’s citrus industry. Roper also organized the Florida Department of Citrus field service offices.
In addition to his citrus businesses, Roper was also a road builder and developer. He is remembered plowing the paths for roads with a mule-drawn plow and also selling dirt and sand to Disney, who needed building supplies for their amusement park in Orlando. Roper was also very involved with raising and showing Tennessee Walking horses. Roper owned a great deal of land where he raised the horses, and his office was always full of ribbons and trophies he had won showing his horses in competitions. Roper continued to ride competitively well into his 70s, when he took first place at the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration.
As his age progressed, Roper stayed active in all of his ventures, managing the Roper Growers Cooperative for the rest of his life. Frank L. Roper passed away on March 6, 1976. In recognition of his many years of service to the Florida Citrus Industry, Roper was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame in 1992. Today Roper’s son Bert and grandson Charles are still active in the citrus industry, continuing to run Roper Brothers Inc. Roper was known to be a strong advocate of higher education and contributed to the Citrus Institute of Florida Southern College. In memory of Roper, the Citrus Institute dedicated a memorial to Roper in the form of a mini-bus that would be used to take institute students on field trips.
Florida Citrus Commission
Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration Show