Winton Oziel “W. O.” Whittle
Winton Oziel Whittle was born on the October 1, 1925 in Quincy, Florida. He was raised on a general row crop and livestock farm in the rural community of Sycamore in Gadsen County and had to take over management of the family farm when he was 16. Whit graduated from Greensboro High School in 1944, and his brother returned from the service in time to take over the farm and allow Whit to go to the University of Florida. He earned his degree in Vocational Agriculture in 1947 and was hired to teach at Moore Haven High School in Glades County in the Veterans on the Farm program, where he was also advisor of the FFA chapter. In 1952 Whit moved back closer to home to teach agriculture in Columbia County, and a year later he moved to Leon County, where became Assistant County Extension Agent while also helping manage the North Florida Fair.
Whit became an Associate County Agent in Columbia and Hamilton Counties in 1954, where he also became an organizer of the Extension Service's pilot program for Farm and Home Development. This effort was a success, and current programs are still based upon what he developed. In 1956 he was promoted to County Agent in Lafayette County, where he excelled for three years until it was time for his next challenge. In 1959 Whit was named Executive Secretary of the Florida Federation of Fairs and Livestock Shows. He eliminated illegal activities and established standards that raised Florida's livestock shows and fairs to stand with the best in the nation.
His continued success led to his next professional position in 1963 when he was appointed Chief of Bureau, State Markets, for the Florida Department of Agriculture. Whit rebuilt old facilities and added new ones, improved morale, and obtained legislative support. Under his leadership, the dollar value of total sales rose from 65 million in 1963 to 189 million in 1985. Agricultural leaders from around the U.S. and many foreign countries came to study his successful marketing operation. In fact, when he retired in 1985 he was recruited through the USAID program to go to Jamaica as a consultant to set up a system of distribution and marketing for their agricultural products.
Whit was Director of the National Association of Produce Market Managers in 1968-69 and received several major recognitions from that organization, including Market Manager of the Year in 1970. He also received the Outstanding Service Award, presented by the Florida Federation of Fairs and Shows, and the Outstanding Leadership Award for his work in the Bureau of State Markets. Whit received the 25 Year Testimonial Award from Alpha Gamma Rho in 1967. He was Chevron’s Agriculture Spokesman of the Year in 1974. Since his retirement he has stayed active in his community and continues to work with Century 21 Lawrence Realty in Quincy where he has been owner and president and continues in sales. Whit has been an active member and leader in the Lion’s Club for nearly 60 years. He still owns a small timber farm and participates in the annual West Florida Livestock Show.