Ben Hill Griffin Ben Hill Griffin III died July 25th at the age of 78. A third-generation citrus grower and cattle rancher who became a leader in the agriculture industry in Florida, he ran the family-owned Ben Hill Griffin Inc. Griffin donated an estimated 1,000 acres to the state for the construction of Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers and established scholarships at numerous higher education schools, including the University of Florida, Stetson University, Bethune Cookman University and Florida Southern College.
John Lewis Civil rights icon and U.S. Congressman John Lewis (D-Georgia) died July 17th in Atlanta at the age of 80. To know of his life story is to know the history of the civil rights movement. He was one of the original 13 “Freedom Riders” who challenged segregated interstate travel in the South; he founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee which organized lunch-counter sit-ins; he helped organize, and spoke at, the 1963 March on Washington; he crossed the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama only to be beaten on the other side; he was elected to the Atlanta city council and the U.S. Congress serving Georgia’s 5th district; he received a Presidential Medal of Freedom and the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award; and he was a National Book Award winner. That was the public man; the private man can best be summed up with a quote from his last essay released after his death – “I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way.”