Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys NWRs, and all Florida nature lovers, have lost a leader with the death on July 29 of George Willson. Refuge Manager Andrew Gude attended his funeral which he said was a who's who of Florida conservationists.
Among the many contributions he made to keeping Florida nature and way of life intact, in the late 1970s George facilitated the first purchase of land for the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. A few years ago, before his cancer returned, several Friends Board members met with George at St. Mark's NWR to learn from him more about the status of efforts to conserve the Big Bend area and the past, and possible future, role of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys Refuges, in those efforts.
George was a man who made a difference in all our lives, even those of us who never were lucky enough to meet him personally.
Clay Henderson, a lawyer and professor at Stetson University, was quoted in Politico as saying that only Teddy Roosevelt conserved more land in Florida than George did. He was involved in about half a million acres of land deals.
George's obituary can be found here.