by Amy Skillen and Jeffrey Zines
Throughout Florida Southern College history, multiple graduates and former students have gone on to serve the legislative branch of the Florida government in both the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate. Edna Pearce Lockett would be the first alumna to serve, beginning her term in 1948. Twenty-two more alumni have served almost every year from then until present. The following legislators have represented different regions of Florida, including Polk County, Sarasota County, Miami-Dade County, and Duval County. Advocated issues have ranged from citrus and agriculture to education to the rights of women and children. The largest number of alumni legislators in office would be in 1974 with a total of eight between the House and Senate. In terms of honors, two of these legislators have held positions of honor in the Senate. N. Curtis Peterson, Jr. served as Senate President Pro Tempore from 1980-1982 as well as Senate President from 1982-1984, and W. Alan Trask served as Senate President Pro Tempore from 1974-1976. At Florida Southern College, five of these legislators have been granted honors. Quillian S. Yancey became part of the college's Honor Walk in 1949. Edna Pearce Lockett was named Honorary Chancellor in 1980. Kent S. McKinley (1954), N. Curtis Peterson, Jr. (1984), and Clark Maxwell, Jr. (1994) were all given Honorary Doctorates of Law.
Ben Albritton is a native of Lakeland, Florida and graduated from Florida Southern College in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science in Business/Citrus. He worked for his family’s citrus grove company before serving as a member of the Florida House of Representatives starting in 2010. Albritton took over the District 66 seat, which had been vacated by fellow alumnus Baxter Troutman, who had reached his term limit. In 2018, he was elected to the Florida State Senate and continued to represent the same area. In addition to his political service, Albritton has served as the chair of the Florida Citrus Commission, President of the Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association, and as chair of the East Charlotte Drainage District.
To view Ben Albritton's Florida Senate Page, click here.
Frank C. Attkisson graduated from Florida Southern College with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. He served on the Kissimmee, Florida City Commission and then was mayor of Kissimmee from 1996-2000. In 2000, Attkisson was elected to the Florida House of Representatives where he served until 2008. Afterward, he was elected to the Osceola County Commission in 2010 and became chairman of the board in 2012. He passed away in 2017 after being involved in a bicycle accident.
To view Frank Attkisson's Florida House of Representatives Page, click here.
Judge Eric Eisnaugle graduated summa cum laude in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Economics. In 2003, he received his Juris Doctor degree from Vanderbilt University. From 2008-2012, Eisnaugle served in the Florida House of Representatives and served again from 2014 until his appointment to the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal in 2017.
To view Eric Eisnaugle's Fifth District Court of Appeal page, click here.
Harry C. Goode, Jr. was born and raised in Melbourne, Florida where his family was one of the founding settler families of the city. Goode attended Florida Southern College from 1956 to 1958, before serving in the Army from 1961 to 1963. He would return home to Melbourne, where he eventually owned Harry Goode’s Outdoor Shop, a store his father had started. Goode was elected as Melbourne’s mayor in 1979 and served until 1986 when he was elected to the House of Representatives. He first represented Melbourne as part of the 33rd District before redistricting made the city part of the 31st district. He would serve the district until 2000. Four years after leaving the House, in 2004, Goode ran for the position of mayor in Melbourne and won again. He served two more terms as mayor before leaving the position in 2012. Goode was serving as a council member on the Melbourne City Council representing District 3 at the time of his death in 2013. Goode’s political career had reflected that of his predecessors’; his father, Harry C. Goode, Sr., also served on the City Council and Harry C. Goode, Jr.’s Great-Grandfather was the 12th mayor of Melbourne.
To view Harry C. Goode, Jr.'s Florida House of Representatives Page, click here.
"Goode to run for Evans-Jones Seat." Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), May 3, 1986.
"Harry Goode, Jr." Florida Today (Cocoa, Florida), November 1, 1982.
Hugh James Grainger, Jr. was from Jacksonville, Florida. He first attended Stetson University before coming to Florida Southern College where he was a member of Theta Chi. By 1954, Grainger had moved back to Jacksonville and started a real estate business. Grainger was elected to the House of Representatives in 1970 and represented his hometown, which was part of District 18. In 1971, he had to step back from his legislative duties due to personal issues, but he resumed his duties in early 1972 for the rest of his term.
"Granger seeks legislative review." The Alligator (Gainesville, Florida), January 18, 1972.
"Hugh James Grainger, Jr." Stetson Letter (DeLand, Florida), November-December 1954.
Lawrence R. Kirkwood graduated from Florida Southern College in 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. From 1977-1980, he was a member of the Florida House of Representatives. Kirkwood then served as a judge in Osceola County from 1981-1990 and in Orange County from 1991-2010. In 2011, he became a Senior Judge for the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.
To view Larry Kirkwood's Ninth Judicial Circuit Court page, click here.
Edna Pearce Lockett served in the Florida House of Representatives representing Highlands County. She was only the third woman to be elected to the Florida House and the only woman serving during her three-term tenure. During her time in office, she helped pass a law that allowed women to serve on juries and worked on other laws furthering women’s rights in the state of Florida. She was also deeply involved with agricultural issues due her previous experience of being a successful cattle rancher. Lockett was also a trustee of Florida Southern College, elected Honorary Chancellor in 1980, and posthumously named to the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1998.
Harvey W. Matthews graduated from Florida Southern College with a degree in Business Education in 1970. He had served in World War II as part of the Eighth Air Force and had attained the rank of Air Force Captain before his retirement in 1964. He then moved to Orlando where he worked at local high schools before beginning his campaign to run for the District 39 seat in 1970. As part of his campaign, he advocated for education and law enforcement. Matthews served in the House until 1976, when he did not seek reelection.
"Matthews Bids For House Seat." Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), July 17, 1970.
"Mica Campaigns Like Whirlwind." Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), September 24, 1976.
Ray Mattox was from Winter Haven, Florida. Before starting college, he served in both the Navy and Army during World War II. After the war, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Florida Southern College before continuing on to the University of Florida for his L.L.B. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1955. Representing his hometown, Mattox began his career as a Democrat, and he was friends with fellow Polk County legislators and UF alumni Ben Hill Griffin, Jr. and Lawton Chiles. However, Mattox switched to being a Republican in the 1970s after having voted conservatively for many years. He was known as a legislator who voted with his conscience rather than along party lines. After 18 years in the Florida House of Representatives, Mattox lost reelection in 1976. From 1980-1981, he served as Department Commander for the Florida American Legion. In 1984, Mattox ran for the position of State Attorney for the Tenth Judicial Circuit, but he lost to newcomer Jerry Hill. Years later, in 2003, Mattox would apply to fill the Polk County Commission seat left vacant by the incumbent’s death, but he lost. Mattox died two years later of congestive heart failure.
"Jerry Hill retires as top prosecutor after 32 years." News Chief (Winter Haven, Florida), December 23, 2016.
"Polk Applicant Feeling Left Out After Oversight." Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), November 6, 2003.
"Ray Mattox, 78, Lawyer." The Ledger (Lakeland, Florida), January 1, 2006.
Clark Maxwell, Jr. was a native of St. Petersburg, Florida. He graduated from Florida Southern College in 1956 with a Bachelor of Science and was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha. In 1974, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives, and in 1978, he was elected to the Florida Senate, representing Brevard County both times. In the Senate, he served as the Republican leader until he resigned in 1984 to head the State Community College System, a post he held until his retirement in 1997. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army.
Florida Senate Handbook 1982-1984
"Former Fla. college system head Clark Maxwell dies." Victoria Advocate (Victoria, Texas), January 26, 2011.
Before entering the Florida House of Representatives, Kent S. McKinley, alongside his wife Marjorie, owned two newspapers - one in Buffalo, NY and The Sarasota News in Sarasota, Florida. After their arrival in Sarasota, they became involved with Florida Southern College, and the college awarded Kent McKinley an honorary Doctorate of Law in 1954. In 1967, he represented Sarasota and District 118 in the Florida House of Representatives and served on the Committee on Commerce. Kent McKinley passed away at the age of 74 at his summer home in Lorraine, Ontario in 1972.
His wife Marjorie was elected Honorary Chancellor at Florida Southern College in 1965 and also awarded an honorary doctorate. The Marjorie M. McKinley Music Building on campus is named in her honor after a donation made by the couple.
"Honorary Alumni 'See What's Going On.'" The Southern (Lakeland, Florida), January 31, 1964.
"Campus Notices." The Southern (Lakeland, Florida), November 3, 1972.
Robert W. “Bob” McKnight is a native of Port Chester, New York. He relocated to Miami in 1948 and was a 1966 graduate of Florida Southern College. He received his Master's degree in Business Administration from Florida State University in 1967. He was president of Omicron Delta Kappa and was also a member of Delta Sigma Pi, Pi Kappa Alpha, and Beta Gamma Sigma. He served as President of his sophomore, junior, and senior classes. He was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1974 and to the Florida Senate in 1978, representing Dade County. He is the author of two books about Florida politics and is a veteran of the U.S. Army.
Florida Senate Handbook 1980-1982
During his time at Florida Southern, Green Thomas “Doc” Melton was involved with both the Athletics program and the Vagabonds, the college’s acting group. During his senior year, he was not only a member of the football team, but he also coached the men’s basketball team in addition to participating in other sports. After graduation, he moved to Lake City where he began the Melton Funeral Home. He continued coaching as he coached the Columbia High Tigers during World War II while also serving as part of the War Administration Board. In 1959, Melton was elected to the Florida Senate. There, he advocated for education issues and served as Chairman of the Education Committee. He also helped with the creation of Lake City Community College, becoming its first Chairman of the Board.
"Green Thomas Melton." Our Family Genealogy Pages. 2020.
N. Curtis Peterson Jr.’s political career began in 1941 when he was a page for his uncle Congressman J. Hardin Peterson. Before becoming a senator himself, Peterson served in the Coast Guard during World War II and afterwards was involved in Florida’s agricultural industry. He was one of the first licensed landscape architects in Florida and founded Lakeland’s Peterson Nursery alongside his brother Howell. He was elected to Florida Southern College Citrus Institute Advisory Council in 1974, received an honorary Doctorate of Law from Florida Southern College in 1984, and was inducted as a member of Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1992. After being elected in 1972, Peterson would represent his hometown of Lakeland, Florida and Polk County for 18 years. In 1980, he was elected Senate President Pro Tempore, and in 1982, he was elected President of the Florida Senate. Peterson strongly advocated for agricultural issues and education reform as well as corrections reform. He was well regarded in the Senate and was known for bridging the gap between Democrats and Republicans. In 1996, he died while undergoing heart surgery.
FLA. S. JOUR. 330-333 (Reg. Sess. 1997).
"Former Senate President Peterson dies in surgery." Tampa Bay Times (Tampa, Florida), July 21, 1996.
Born in Wildwood, New Jersey, George Sheldon moved to Plant City, Florida, where he was raised. He attended Florida Southern College from 1965-1966 before transferring to Florida State University where he earned both his Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor degrees. In 1969, he began his political career by working as a legislative aide for then State Senator Reubin Askew. In 1974, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives where he would represent the Tampa area until 1982. He then worked in private practice before becoming the Deputy Attorney General for Central Florida in 1999 where he worked alongside Attorney General Robert Butterworth, a friendship and partnership that would continue for the years to come. In 2003, continuing to work alongside Butterworth, Sheldon became the Associate Dean at St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami, Florida. In 2008, Sheldon was appointed Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, taking over from Butterworth who had resigned. From 2011 to 2013, Sheldon was the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Federal Administration for Children and Families in the United States Department of Health and Human Services. In 2014, he ran for Florida Attorney General, but he lost to Pam Bondi, the incumbent. Sheldon then became CEO of Our Kids, a private foster care group based in Miami. Throughout his career, Sheldon had always advocated for the rights of children, especially foster children. He passed away due to complications from a fall in 2018.
"George Sheldon, a former DCF secretary and a champion for foster children, dies." Miami Herald (Miami, Florida), August 24, 2018.
Wallace Lee Storey was from Bartow, Florida and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Social Science from Florida Southern College in 1957. The same year, he entered law school at Stetson University as a Highbaugh Fellow and earned his L.L.B. in 1959. By 1960, he was part of the law school’s faculty and was a librarian in the school’s law library. In 1961, Storey had opened his law partnership in Bartow as well as had become the Assistant County Attorney for Polk County. In 1963, he became President of the Stetson Lawyers Association. In 1965, he ran for the House of Representatives for District 3 and won. He represented Polk County in the House until 1967. After leaving the House, Storey would remain on the Board of Overseers for Stetson’s law school for many years.
"Barrister's Bar." The Stetson Reporter (DeLand, Florida), March 8, 1957.
"New Stetson Lawyer's Assn. Officers." The Stetson Reporter (DeLand, Florida), January 10, 1963.
"Storey Appointed." The Stetson Reporter (DeLand, Florida), October 2, 1959.
"Wallace L. Storey." Stetson Letter (DeLand, Florida), Spring 1965.
"Wallace Storey." Stetson Letter (DeLand, Florida), Summer 1960.
Joe Tedder was born in Tampa. Shortly thereafter, his family moved to Lakeland. He attended public schools in Polk County and graduated from Lakeland Senior High School. He is a graduate of Florida Southern College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. He was a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 1992-1992. Since 1996, he has served as Tax Collector for Polk County. Joe is married to Tracey Tedder, Ed.D., who is the Associate Provost for Experiential Education at Florida Southern College.
To view Joe Tedder's Polk County Tax Collector Page, click here.
William Alan Trask was born and raised in Polk County, Florida. He attended Florida Southern from 1965 to 1966 and again from 1967 to 1968, but he ultimately earned his degree from the University of Florida. After graduation, he became involved in both the citrus and cattle industries alongside his father. He was the President of the Polk County Farm Bureau as well as a member of the Florida Citrus Mutual. He served as Polk County Commissioner from 1963 to 1968 before he was elected to the Florida Senate where he represented Polk County until 1971. After redistricting, he continued to represent Polk County from 1973 to 1982. From 1974 to 1976, he was the Senate President Pro Tempore. In 1982, Trask resigned from his position. After leaving office, he switched from being a Democrat to a Republican. Trask then owned Flora & Ella’s Restaurant with his wife Irene in Labelle, Florida.
"Alan Trask, former Florida senator from Bartow, has died at 85." News Chief (Winter Haven, Florida), January 11, 2019.
Baxter Troutman served four terms in the Florida House of Representatives. While in office, Troutman represented District 66, which included Hardee County and parts of Highlands County and Polk County. He mainly advocated for agricultural issues, especially cattle and citrus. Troutman comes from a family with a history in both agriculture and Florida politics. His grandfather is Ben Hill Griffin, Jr., who served in both the Florida House and Senate. His cousins are J.D. Alexander, who also served in the Florida House and Senate, and Katherine Harris, who served in the Florida Senate and U.S. House of Representatives as well as serving as Florida’s Secretary of State. In 2017, Troutman began his campaign for becoming Florida’s next Agricultural Commissioner, but he lost the Republican primary to Matt Caldwell.
To view Baxter Troutman's Florida House of Representatives Page, click here.
Wendell H. Watson served in World War II as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. He attended both Florida Southern College and the University of Florida. He moved to the Lakeland, Florida area around 1944 and made Lakeland his home by becoming deeply involved in the community. Watson served on the Lakeland City Commission, on Polk County School Board for twelve years, and on the Florida State School Board all in addition to serving two years in the Florida House of Representatives. Watson also owned Watson’s Office Supply in Lakeland and worked there until his retirement. Wendell H. Watson Elementary School in Lakeland was named in his honor.
"Watson To Run For Reelection In District 51." Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), June 29, 1976.
"Wendell H. Watson." The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida), April 18, 1969.
Benjamin Thomas Whitfield was a native of Perry, Florida. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Florida Southern College. He also earned a Master's degree in Education and a Doctorate in Higher Education from Florida State University. He started an Industrial Arts program at Taylor County High School in Perry. Whitfield later served as Dean of Students at the College of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City, North Carolina and then as Dean of Students at Westark Community College in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He served one term in the Florida House of Representatives and was a veteran of the U.S. Navy.
"Benjamin Thomas Whitfield." Tallahassee Democrat (Tallahassee, Florida), October 12, 2005.
Born in Canton, Ohio, Stephen Richard Wise moved to Florida shortly before attending Florida Southern College where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1963. He would later earn a Master’s degree in Education from Middle Tennessee State University and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Alabama. Before he was a House Representative, Wise first worked as a schoolteacher and then worked in different areas of Jacksonville local government. Wise was elected to House of Representatives in 1988 where he served until 2000. He represented the Jacksonville area as well as surrounding counties. From 2001-2012, he was a state Senator and represented the same area. Throughout his various careers, Wise has been a strong advocate for educational issues in Florida. Most recently, in 2016, Wise was an advocate for the Florida Association of Centers for Independent Living.
To view Stephen R. Wise's Florida Senate Page, click here.
"Meet the legislators: Steven Wise." Jacksonville Daily Record (Jacksonville, Florida), January 5, 2002.
"1/27/16 House Education Committee." The Florida Channel (Tallahassee, Florida), January 2, 2016.
Quillian S. Yancey served the public in many roles throughout his life. He began by serving in Army during World War II. From there, he attended Florida Southern College and graduated in 1949. At Florida Southern, he was elected President of Student Body in 1948, and at graduation, he was named to the school’s Honor Walk. After graduation, Yancey became an FBI Agent in Washington D.C. and New York from 1951-1954. He then served as legislative assistant to Congressman James A. Haley from 1958-1959. Yancey attended Stetson University in 1957 as a Highbaugh Fellow, but he ultimately earned his law degree from George Washington Law School in 1960. In 1966, Yancey was elected to the House of Representatives where he served until 1972. Afterward, in 1976, he was elected to the Tenth Judicial Circuit as State Attorney and served Polk, Highlands, and Hardee counties. He also served as Polk County’s interim Sheriff in 1976 when the previous sheriff was removed from the position. In 1984, Yancey did not seek reelection as State Attorney and retired after spending most of his life in public service. However, his retirement did not last long because in 1990, he entered the race for the Florida Senate District 12 seat against Charles T. Canady and won. Yancey served only one term, electing to retire again in 1992.
Florida Senate Handbook 1990-1992
"Former State Attorney Quillian Yancey Dies at 82." The Ledger (Lakeland, Florida), January 4, 2005.