William Christian Pedersen (1897-1974)
Winter Haven Citrus Growers Association
Waverly Growers Cooperative
Citrus World, Inc.
Florida Citrus Producers Trade Association
Highlands Crate Company
Florida Council of Farmer Cooperative
U.S.D.A. Agricultural Committee
Citrus Central, Inc.
Wilhelm (William) C. “Bill” Pedersen was born on March 21, 1897 in Clarinda, Iowa. Seventeen years later Pedersen and his family moved down to Winter Haven, Florida. After attending Winter Haven High School, Pedersen graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1916. He served in the army during World War I and returned to Florida in 1919.
Pedersen began his citrus career as a packer for the Winter Haven Citrus Growers Association, which would later become Waverly Growers Cooperative. In 1921, at the age of 24, Pedersen planted his first grove; that same year he was named general manager of Waverly. Pedersen remained as the general manager for twenty four years before being elected the president of Waverly in 1945. Pedersen became known as the “patriarch of Waverly.” He also served as director, and later president of Citrus World, Inc. Pedersen spent the latter portion of his life serving as president of Citrus World, Inc. from 1952 to 1975.
During his long career in the industry, Pedersen held many important posts, including chairman of the Shippers Advisory Committee of the Growers Administrative Committee, chairman of the Florida Citrus Producers Trade Association, President of the Highland Crate Company, director of the Florida Council of Farmer Cooperatives, member of the Agricultural Committee of the United States Department of Agriculture, and director of Citrus Central, Inc.
Pedersen developed a very positive reputation over the span of his life. He was known as a fervent advocate of farmer cooperatives and a strong believer in treating every grower alike. Pedersen could be described as a pleasant, cheerful, generous individual, more than willing to work for his fellow man and the common good. Pedersen passed away in 1974, but he would be remembered both for his gracious manner and his devotion to the industry. Pedersen was posthumously inducted in to the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame in 1975.
More about Pedersen’s live may be found in his book How I Got This Way: An Autobiography, published in 1962.