Oma Richard “Dick” Minton Sr. was born July 20, 1925, in Hastings, to a pioneering agricultural family that had farmed potatoes in that area for three generations. The family moved to Vero Beach in 1933 and later to Fort Pierce. Minton bought his first citrus grove at the age of 17 when the Indian River region was still in its agricultural infancy, and was active throughout his life to help develop Indian River citrus into the premier product it is today.
He continued to acquire and develop groves, and in 1963 built what was, at the time, the most modern citrus packing house in the world. Located on Kings Highway in Fort Pierce, the family-operated Minton Sun has grown to become a vertically integrated company, handling both fresh and processed citrus.
During Minton’s distinguished career, he was a member of a number of community and industry organizations and a leader of many of them. He was on the board of directors and vice chairman of the Florida National Bank. He was president of the Fort Pierce Jaycees and also served as president of the St. Lucie County Board of Realtors. He was active in the First United Methodist Church of Fort Pierce. And he was also a leader in Florida’s Soil and Water Conservation Program, which has been vital to to the development of agriculture throughout the state.
Minton contributed to Florida’s agricultural industry in many ways. In addition to developing a successful family citrus operation, he served as president and chairman of the Florida Citrus Production Manager’s Association; president and chairman of the board of the Seald Sweet Growers; director of Plymouth Citrus Producers Coop; president and chairman of the board of directors of Florigold Growers; member and director of the executive committee of the Indain River Citrus League; and director of the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association.
His contributions reached well beyond the citrus industry. He was a leader in soil and water conservation efforts as an active member of the Florida Association of Conservation Districts; president of the Florida Soil and Water Conservation District; and chairman of the Fort Pierce Farms Drainage District. He served as president and chairman of the board of the Florida State Horticultural Society, a large scientific/educational organization of all horticultural groups in Florida. He was also president of the Florida Agricultural Council, an organization which has helped generate millions of dollars in state funds for agricultural research, education, and protection programs.
Minton earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture in 1968 from the University of Florida, and of all the activities with which he was connected, the ones he cherished most were those involved with the university and its Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. He was one of 10 people who started the SHARE (Special Help for Agricultural Research and Education) program, which has raised more than $75 million to support the statewide programs of the university. He was a leader in the DARE (Developing Agricultural Resources Effectively) program. And he was chairman of the building committee for the Ben Hill Griffin Jr. Citrus Hall at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.
Among the many honors he received were the 1986 Outstanding Conservationist of the Year award, presented by the St. Lucie Soil and Conservation District; the Florida Citrus Packers Outstanding Service Award, 1972-1974; and an Appreciation for Dedicated Service to Florida Agriculture from the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Minton passed away on October 19, 1996. He is survived by his wife, Shirley Ann Longino Minton, and four children.