Wakulla County Historical Society

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Donald L. Tucker, Wakulla Native, March 10, 7:00 PM, WCHS Program

Speaker Donald L. Tucker.jpg

Donald L. Tucker       Former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives 1976–1980

Tuesday, March 10, 7:00 PM, Wakulla County Public Library the speaker for our WCHS second Tuesday program is Donald L. Tucker.  We appreciate Don’s faithfulness as a WCHS member and contributor.

The Wakulla County History Society looks forward to another interesting program featuring a Wakulla native whose name is well-known, not only in Wakulla and Leon counties but also throughout the southern states.  Does Donald L. Tucker sound familiar? Of course, there are few days that the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center is not mentioned in the Tallahassee news and activities.  Many Wakulla residents think of the person, Donald Tucker, rather than the Civic Center when we hear the title.

Don, son of former Florida Senator Luther C. Tucker and wife, Grace Spears Tucker, grew up in Crawfordville, graduating from Crawfordville High School in 1953.  Don, senior class president, student body president, and football team captain also attended Florida Boys State where he was elected Governor. After graduating high school, he attended Brigham Young University, enlisted in the Army and after being honorably discharged, served two years as a missionary. After receiving his law degree from the University of Florida, Don began his law practice in Tallahassee and built his home in Crawfordville.

In 1966, Don ran for, and was elected to represent Wakulla, Leon and Franklin Counties in the Florida Legislature.  He was reelected the following five terms becoming Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, the only Speaker in Florida’s history to preside over four consecutive regular legislative sessions.  He was chosen by fellow representatives on two occasions to receive the Florida Times Union Award as “Most Effective Member of the Legislature.”

In 1977, the Legislature unanimously passed the bill signed by Gov. Askew naming the Tallahassee Civic Center “The Donald L. Tucker Civic Center.” Don is also proud that he was responsible for the Continuing Education Center, the Gus Turnbull Building at FSU and the basketball arena at the University of Florida, “The O’Connell Center”.

He was appointed Chairman of the Latin American-Caribbean Commission by Governor Askew and was nominated by President Carter to be Vice-Chair of the Civil Aeronautics Board as well as commissioning him to serve as Special Ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

The Tallahassee Democrat had an extensive article about Don Tucker in April of 1976 in which he is portrayed as a savvy politician enjoying the game, but very much playing to win.  Perhaps that is a very appropriate remark for the man whose name is on the Civic Arena.

The public is invited to attend our meeting on the 2nd Tuesday evening of March, 7pm, at the Wakulla Library.  Come to meet and greet Don and to hear from a Wakulla County native that “made it in the world of politics.”

Submitted by Betty Green

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J. Harold Thurmond & Judge Mike Carter Share Wakulla County’s Rich History

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The Historical Society’s second Tuesday program in January Judges of the 1800s and 1900s featured speakers J. Harold Thurmond, retired Clerk of Court, and Mike Carter, retired County Judge.

Thurmond’s remarks included: H.L. Henderson (1871), W.T. Duval (1873, 1877), W.A. Giles (1881), B.S. Smith (1885), W.A. Giles (1887), C.M. Cox (1888), William H. Walker (1890), W.W. Giles (1891), and S.J. Giles (1895). WCHS member Helen Harvey, who regularly attends the programs, commented that she was impressed with the “spectacular research Harold did to share so many interesting facts.” Thurmond’s humor, teaching background, and talent for storytelling mesmerized the audience. He commended the effort of his “whole family” to produce the presentation while daughter Jana monitored the slide show.

Mike Carter litigated the last case ever tried in the Historic Wakulla County Courthouse (c. 1892) and his remarks began with R. Don McLeod who presided as county judge from 1901 to 1928. McLeod’s famous ruling that a mullet is a bird because it has a gizzard occurred in the old courthouse which has sported a mullet weathervane since it was restored by the Chamber of Commerce. Carter continued the topic with Raney Whaley (1928), A.L. Porter (1932), George Harper (1956), Evelyn Flack (1974), Michael Carter (1983), and Jill Walker (1990). Carter shared many stories of personal interaction with Judge Porter and fellow lawyer Jewell Hudson during his career of practicing law. Carter also recounted with good humor the controversial election between himself and Judge Flack.

Both Carter and Thurmond are active Historical Society members. Program Chairman Betty Green said, “We are so thankful to have people who are willing to share the rich history of Wakulla County with such fascination. We really appreciate their support.” Alongside Thurmond’s family in the audience were Judge Harper’s widow, Naomi, and sons George, Kenny, and Larry. All historical programs are recorded and available on CD upon request in the Old Jail Gift Shop. Historical Society meetings are on the second Tuesday, September through May, except October and December, at 7:00 pm in the Public Library at 4330 Crawfordville Highway. The Wakulla County Historical Society Museum & Archives is located on Courthouse Square at 24 High Drive in Crawfordville and is open Thursday and Friday from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

By Arkad

Home’s new home | TheWakullaNews.com

Home’s new home | TheWakullaNews.com. Heritage Village Park feature.

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