William Ferguson “Bill” Edwards (1916-1992)
Lee & Edwardss Packing Company
Pasco Packing Association
Florida Concentrated Orange Juice
Florida Citrus Commission
Florida Canners’ Association
National Juice Products Association
Joint Citrus Industry Legislative Committee
William Ferguson “Bill” Edwards was born in Tampa, Florida in 1916. Edwards was the son of Lamarcus Edwards, Sr. and the nephew of D.C. Lee, co-founders of the Lee & Edwards Packing Company in Dade City, Florida, in 1936. The company went on to become Pasco Packing Association and then Lykes-Pasco, one of the largest citrus processing operations in the world. At the age of three, young William Edwards was introduced to the Florida citrus industry when his father decided to use his photograph for the “Billy Boy” label on the company’s fresh packed fruit. Edwards graduated from Plant High School, Tampa, FL in 1932 and went on to attend the Virginia Military Institute. Edwards returned to Florida in 1936 and moved to Dade City to begin his career with the Lee & Edwards Packing Company in 1937 as a fruit buyer and steadily rose to the position of Executive Vice President. Pasco Packing Company was acquired by the Lykes family in 1961 and Edwards was named President of the conglomerate. Edwards served as Lykes-Pasco’s President from 1961 to 1974 and was named Vice Chairman of the Board until he officially retired.
Edwards only left the citrus industry briefly when he served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War Two. Edwards was instrumental in developing the quality improvement program for Florida Concentrated Orange Juice in 1965, and was an industry giant in marketing and product development. Edwards was appointed by four different governors to serve on the Florida Citrus Commission for six terms, a total of eighteen years. Edwards also served as President of the Florida Canners’ Association, Vice President of the National Juice Products Association, a member of the Joint Citrus Industry Legislative Committee and vice chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission.
Edwards was an avid football fan and Pasco High School’s football stadium in Dade City bears his name. William Ferguson “Bill” Edwards passed away in 1992 and was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame in 1982.