Levi Nathaniel Pipkin became one of Southern College’s trustees in 1910, a few years after its arrival in Sutherland, Florida. From there, he sent all six of his children to the College, with four of his daughters earning degrees. His children were Juanita (Class of 1912), Luther Nathaniel (Attended), Thelma (Attended), Eunice (Class of 1922), Bernice (Class of 1923), and Ruth (Class of 1929). As a trustee and Vice-Chairman of the Board, Levi Nathaniel was crucial to the success of the College after it suffered multiple disasters in the early 1920s. He, along with E.E. Edge and E.T. Roux, paved the way for Southern College's move to Lakeland, Florida. Later, Eunice’s son Zerney Barnes, Jr. would attend from 1942 to 1943, but he would leave for the Navy before graduating. Yet, the Pipkin family’s involvement was not limited to just Levi Nathaniel and his descendants. Donna Pipkin Dickinson, his sister, and Georgia Alice Proctor Graham, his sister-in-law, worked for the College from 1937 to 1943. Daniel Moses, Levi Nathaniel’s brother, also sent two of his descendants to the College. His daughter Flossie attended the same time as her cousin Juanita (1911 to 1912), and his grandson Alva Claude Pipkin graduated as part of the Class of 1953. The biographical sketches below serve to highlight Levi Nathaniel Pipkin and his family’s involvement with Southern College and Florida Southern College over the years and across the state.
Levi Nathaniel Pipkin was born in Alabama to Nathaniel Levi and Margaret Elizabeth Hart Pipkin on August 18, 1866. When he was young, his parents moved the family back to their native Georgia, and in 1883, he made the move with the rest of his family down to central Florida. Levi Nathaniel lived with his family until about 1888 and started selling fresh meat in nearby Lakeland in 1889. He then started a second meat market in Bartow, which he ran from 1890 to 1894. On January 29, 1893, Levi Nathaniel Pipkin married Florence Beulah Proctor, and on December 12, 1893, their first child Juanita was born.[2,3] Shortly after, in 1894, Levi Nathaniel opened the first general store in Mulberry, which he would run until 1908 when he sold it to a larger company. On October 5, 1895, his first and only son Luther Nathaniel was born, and on October 29, 1897, the Pipkin’s third child Thelma was born.[4,5] From 1898 to 1917, Levi Nathaniel also served as a member of the local school board. The Pipkin’s fourth child Eunice was born on September 11, 1900, and their fifth child Bernice was born on September 18, 1901.[6,7] Also, in 1901, when the town of Mulberry was officially incorporated, Levi Nathaniel was elected as an alderman. On February 26, 1906, the Pipkin’s final child Ruth was born. In 1907, Levi Nathaniel started the Bank of Mulberry and served as its first President, a position he would hold until his death. In 1908, Levi Nathaniel and Florence Beulah moved from Mulberry to Scott Lake (Lakeland). They would spend the rest of their lives in that home.  By this time, Levi Nathaniel had also become interested in the discovery of phosphate in the area leading to the buying and selling of several properties with his brother Daniel and partner Hugh Wear. One such sale occurred in 1923 where the trio sold land containing phosphate for nearly $1 million (worth approximately $15 million today). Due to their wealth and financial success, Levi Nathaniel and his brother owned automobiles, when most in the area did not.[10,11] Levi Nathaniel was also able to go on trips with his wife Florence Beulah to places such as the World's Fair in St. Louis in 1904 as well as purchasing a summer home in North Carolina.
Levi Nathaniel Pipkin joined Southern College’s Board of Trustees in 1910 and soon became a vital member in the future success of the college. When fire burnt down the women’s dormitory in Sutherland on January 29, 1921, Levi Nathaniel donated money to help the students that had lost their belongings. Also in 1921, Levi Nathaniel was elected Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees, a position that he would hold until his death. Levi Nathaniel along with E.T. Roux and J. Edgar Wall were all critical in the move of Southern College from the west coast of Florida to Lakeland as they served on both the relocation and building committees. It was through their combined efforts and generous donations that Southern College was able to survive after the fire and subsequent hurricane to make the move to its new home.
Years after the move, Levi Nathaniel also donated money to have a bandshell built on the Lakeland campus. The bandshell was designed by Robert Wehr and was built by college students, like many other projects on campus during that time frame. At the time of its completion, the band shell was the largest in the state. On October 25, 1941, the L.N. Pipkin Bandshell was officially dedicated and bands from across the state came to perform.
On October 29, 1953, Levi Nathaniel Pipkin passed away at the age of 87. George M. Trautman, President of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (MiLB), posthumously dedicated the L.N. Pipkin Athletic Field (where Barnett Complex now stands) to Levi Nathaniel on March 25, 1954.
Florence Beulah Proctor Pipkin was born on March 7, 1870 near Sarasota, Florida to Doctor Washington and Georgia Ann Shuman Proctor, both of whom were also from Georgia. Florence Beulah married Levi Nathaniel Pipkin in 1893 and had six children with him. After her husband’s death in 1953, she represented him at the dedication of L.N. Pipkin Athletic Field. Florence Beulah Proctor Pipkin died on January 14, 1958 at the age of 87.
Donna Pipkin Dickinson was born on August 22, 1875 to Nathaniel Levi and Margaret Elizabeth Hart Pipkin. She was the younger sister of Levi Nathaniel and made the move down to Florida with the rest of her family in 1883. She married Charles R. Dickinson in 1894. Donna worked as a Housemother for the College from 1937 to 1943 and served as Social Director in 1939. Donna Pipkin Dickinson passed away on January 9, 1964 at the age of 88.
Georgia Alice Proctor Graham was born to Doctor Washington and Georgia Ann Shuman Proctor on July 27, 1882. She was the younger sister of Florence Beulah Proctor Pipkin. Georgia Alice married Austin Estell Graham, who was an associate of L.N. Pipkin’s at his store in Mulberry. They had one son together, Austin Estell Graham, Jr. in 1908. Georgia Alice worked at Florida Southern College from 1937 to 1943. Some of her roles at the College included Social Director, Housemother, and Dietitian. Georgia Alice Proctor Graham passed away on January 4, 1963 at the age of 80.
Juanita Pipkin Feaster was born on December 12, 1893 to Levi Nathaniel and Florence Beulah Pipkin. Juanita attended Southern College with her studies focusing on Piano, and she graduated in 1912. Her cousin Flossie Pipkin also attended the College at the same time. During her time at Southern, Juanita held various roles in multiple organizations. She was President of the Sigma Delta Literary Society in 1911 and the Vice President in 1912. She was the Secretary of her Freshman and Sophomore classes as well as the Y.W.C.A in 1912. She was also a member of the Epworth League, the Morning Watch, The Southern Newspaper staff, “Curry Club,” the Tennis Club, and Feasters’ Club. While studying at Southern College, Juanita met her future husband Orion O. Feaster. Together, they would have three children: Orion Otis, Jr.; William L.; and John “Jack” Pipkin. The couple divorced in 1939, around the time of the death of their son William. Years later, Juanita would join the “Old Guard,” an alumni group for those who had graduated before the College moved to Lakeland. In 1982, Juanita was part of the Old Guard group, alongside her sister Eunice, who presented a portrait of President Alderman to President Davis. Juanita Pipkin Feaster died on October 9, 1986, survived by her son Dr. John “Jack” Pipkin.
Juanita wrote of her experiences at Southern College in the anthology Of Fact and Fancy… at Florida Southern College.
Dr. Orion Otis Feaster was born in Micanopy, Florida on April 4, 1883 to Otis Laney Feaster and Sallie Mixson Feaster. He was the elder brother of Burnes Lynn Feaster, who would be the future husband of Bernice Pipkin Feaster. Like his wife Juanita, Orion Otis also attended Southern College. While at Southern, he was President of the senior class, Vice President of the Y.M.C.A., Treasurer of the Epworth League, and a member of the Phi Sigma Literary Society. He was also an honorary member of the Feasters’ Club. Orion Otis graduated in 1912, and in 1931, he was inducted into the College’s Honor Walk as the top student of his graduating class. He would then attend Jefferson Medical College, from where he would graduate in 1916. Orion Otis then returned to Florida, settling in St. Petersburg, and would go on to become a radiologist as well as later serving in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. From 1925 -1928, he was also on the Florida Southern College Board of Trustees as an alumni trustee. After his divorce from Juanita in 1939, he later married Annette Mebane, a fellow radiologist and pediatrician. Dr. Orion Otis Feaster died in 1971 due to illness.
Luther Nathaniel Pipkin was the first and only son born to Levi Nathaniel and Florence Beulah Pipkin on October 5, 1895. At the age of 21, he entered the U.S. Army and served for two years, until 1919. He married Beulah Gordon in 1923. In 1930, the couple’s son Luther Nathaniel Jr. was born. Like many others in his family, Luther Nathaniel also went into the medical field as he was a chiropractor with a practice in Lakeland. Luther Nathaniel died on January 7, 1974 at the age of 78.
Thelma Pipkin Hewett was the third child born to Levi Nathaniel and Florence Beulah Pipkin on October 29, 1897. She was one of Levi Nathaniel’s five daughters that he sent to Southern College. Thelma attended from 1920 to 1921, but she did not graduate. She later married Burton E. Hewett, and together, they had four children Burton Edwin, Jimmy, Martha, and Audrey. Thelma Pipkin Hewett died on August 27, 1977 at the age of 79.
The fourth child of Levi Nathaniel and Florence Beulah Pipkin, Eunice Pipkin Barnes was born on September 11, 1900. Like her elder sister Juanita, she also attended Southern College. While here, Eunice was the assistant editor for The Southern student newspaper. She was also friends with Cecil Morley, who documented her college life experiences in a scrapbook. Eunice graduated in 1922, and in 1931, she was inducted into the Honor Walk as the top student in her graduating class. She was also part of the last class to graduate on the west coast. On June 30, 1924, Eunice married Zerney B. Barnes. Together, they had 4 children: Zerney B., Jr.; Richard; Elizabeth; and Eunice Barnes. When their son Zerney was a child, the couple lived in a lakefront home right next to the College's new home in Lakeland. In 1934, the family moved to their home in the Park Hill area, which is to the north of campus. Eunice’s husband was part of the real estate company developing the area in different parts of Lakeland, including to the west of Lake Hollingsworth, and Eunice Road is named so in her honor.
Later on, she would become part of the “Old Guard,” an alumni group for those who graduated before the College moved to Lakeland. In 1979, she served as Chairman of the Old Guard and received the Alumni Distinguished Service Award. In 1982, she was part of the Old Guard group, alongside her sister Juanita, who presented a portrait of President Alderman to President Davis. Eunice Pipkin Barnes died on January 11, 1984.
Like her sister Juanita, Eunice also wrote of her experiences at Southern College in the anthology Of Fact and Fancy… at Florida Southern College.
Zerney Burns Barnes, Sr. was born on September 30, 1894 to L.L. and Katherine Barnes in Bartow, Florida. He married Eunice Pipkin on June 30, 1924 and was the father of Zerney B. Barnes, Jr. as well as three other children. He, along with his business partner W.L. Everhardt, was a successful developer along the western side of Lake Hollingsworth as well as other areas in Lakeland. In the 1920s, Barnes was part of the Lakeland cabinet for the $1.5 million “Southern College Campaign” started by Ludd Spivey at the beginning of his term as college president. Zerney B. Barnes, Sr. passed away on November 21, 1972.
Dr. Zerney Burns Barnes, Jr., FACS was born on August 8, 1925 to Eunice Pipkin and Zerney B. Barnes, Sr. and was the eldest of their four children. Zerney spent his childhood nearby and on the Southern College campus. His father would take him to Southern football games and Zerney would play on the athletic field after school. When he about five years old, Zerney was close friends with Allan Spivey, the son of President Ludd Spivey who died tragically after contracting rabies from a dog attack.
Zerney Barnes, Jr. graduated from Lakeland High School in January 1942. Shortly after his high school graduation, he began at Florida Southern College in March 1942 and attended from 1942-1943. During his time at the College, he helped with the construction of E.T. Roux Library (now the Buckner Building), and, having participated in the sport since childhood, Zerney was also the men’s tennis singles champion in 1942. Zerney was also friends with Henry W. Blackburn, Jr., the son of Rev. Blackburn who was an Honor Walk recipient like Zerney’s mother Eunice.
Zerney Barnes, Jr. left Florida Southern College in June 1943 in order to join the Navy’s V-12 College Training Program in order to become a medical officer. In July 1943, Barnes entered the University of Miami as part of the program. His friend from Florida Southern, Henry Blackburn, had also entered the V-12 program. Zerney graduated in 1944 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry with a minor in Physics. In just 31 months, Zerney had graduated with his Bachelor’s degree. While at the University of Miami, he was the President of Sigma Chi and a member of the Iron Arrow honor society, National Honor Society, and the Chemistry Honor Club. He was also a member of the University’s football team.[32,37]
After earning his Bachelor’s degree, Zerney continued as part of the Navy’s V-12 program and was admitted into Emory University. He would continue to serve as part of the Navy until 1945 when World War II ended, and he was honorably discharged. While at Emory, he received a Research Fellowship with the Department of Medicine’s Department of Bacteriology and Virology at Grady Hospital in his junior year. He was also a president of Alpha Omega Alpha honor society in his junior year and was a member of Phi Chi medical fraternity.
While working at the Grady Hospital during his senior year, Zerney met his wife Frances Shaw, who was working in the pediatric unit as part of her own residency and was the first female pediatric intern at the hospital. The couple married on December 27, 1949 and Zerney graduated from Emory in 1950 with his M.D. which he had self-funded through internships and various work opportunities.
For his residency, Zerney went to the University of Minnesota, which was known for its surgery program. A year later, he moved to the Kennedy VA Group Teaching Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee to continue his residency. His cousin Lynn Feaster had also worked there. Frances gave birth to the couple’s first daughter Beryl in August 1951.
In 1952, Dr. Zerney Barnes was drafted into the Korean War and was sent to Jacksonville Naval Base in July 1952 at the end of his residency. Frances gave birth to their second daughter Roxanne soon after the family arrived in Jacksonville. Zerney was then deployed to the Canal Zone in Panama. Alongside him were his wife and two young daughters. In April 1954, Zerney was discharged early due to the fact that Frances was with their third child and dealing with a high-risk pregnancy. The family returned to the United States, and Zerney resumed his residency at the Kennedy VA Hospital. Shortly after their arrival, however, the couple lost their third child due to medical complications. Dr. Zerney Barnes finished his residency at the Kennedy VA Hospital, and in 1959, he and his family moved to Selma, Alabama where he began working at a private surgical practice. He later moved to the Jackson Hospital in Montgomery, Alabama.
Prior to his retirement in 1984, Dr. Zerney Barnes, Jr. had performed a variety of different surgery types and published 22 research articles in various medical journals. He was also a board certified surgeon and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Zerney Burns Barnes, Jr., FACS passed away in May 2020 at the age of 94.
Bernice Pipkin Feaster was the fifth child born to Levi Nathaniel and Florence Beulah Pipkin on September 18, 1901. Like her older sisters before her, Bernice also attended Southern College. She graduated in 1923 as part of the first class to graduate from Southern’s new location in Lakeland. In 1924, she married Burnes Lynn Feaster, the brother of Orion O. Feaster. They had one son Burnes Lynn Feaster, Jr. together. However, by the time their son was thirteen, around 1937, the couple had divorced. Bernice’s son would follow in his uncle Orion’s footsteps and also become a doctor; in turn, his sons Burnes Lynn Feaster, III and Fred would also become doctors.[40,41] Bernice Pipkin Feaster died in 1978.
Like her sisters, Bernice also wrote of her experiences at Southern College in the anthology Of Fact and Fancy… at Florida Southern College.
Ruth Pipkin Dickson was the youngest child of Levi Nathaniel and Florence Beulah Pipkin. She was born on February 26, 1906. Ruth attended Southern College and graduated in 1929. Like her sister Juanita, Ruth was a Piano student and active in multiple student organizations on campus, including the Women’s Government Association. In her freshman year, Ruth was part of the group that started the Phi Delta sorority and became its first Vice President. For the rest of the years at Southern College, she would be the President of the sorority. Ruth married her husband Harvey Routh Dickson in 1932, and together, they had two children.[44,45] In 1961, she gave to Florida Southern College a portrait of her late father (which currently hangs in the McKay Archives). Prior to her sister Bernice's passing in 1978, Ruth started the scholarship that bears her father’s name.[32,42] Ruth Pipkin Dickson passed away in 1981 at the age of 75.
Flossie Pipkin was born to Daniel Moses and Sarah Catherine Moore Pipkin on January 13, 1892 as the sixth of their thirteen children together and the couple’s first daughter. Flossie attended Southern College at the same time as her cousin Juanita. In 1911, Flossie was on the Sub-Freshman Roll, and in 1912, she was part of the Fourth Year class of the Academy. She was treasurer of both the Y.W.C.A. and the Sigma Delta Literary Society. Flossie was also part of the “Curry Club” and Feasters’ Club alongside her cousin. She would go on to marry M. Harry Moore and the couple would have three children together. Flossie Pipkin Moore died on January 3, 1973.
Alva "Al" Claude Pipkin was born to Edgar Holmes, Sr. and Judson Cleo Limeberger Pipkin on March 16, 1931 and was the youngest of their five children together. Through his father Edgar, Alva Claude is the great-grandson of Nathaniel Levi and the grandson of Daniel Moses. Through his mother, Alva Claude is also the great-grandson of Wiley Pipkin, the brother of Nathaniel Levi. Thus, his great-grandfathers are in fact brothers. In 1949, Alva graduated with honors from Mulberry High School as well as earning a four-year scholarship to Florida Southern College. He planned to earn a degree in Journalism; however, an offer from his great uncle Levi Nathaniel changed his plans. Levi Nathaniel offered Alva the opportunity to work at the Bank of Mulberry as long as Alva earned a business degree. In 1953, Alva graduated from Florida Southern College magna cum laude with a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting and Finance as well as earning the Outstanding Business Graduate award. While he did not continue his career at the bank after graduation, Alva would go on to become a successful businessman in his own right and became the Vice President of Finance of Coors Brewing Company of Golden, Colorado before his retirement. Alva Claude Pipkin was honored as a Department of Business and Economics Distinguished Graduate of Florida Southern College in 2003. He passed away on June 8, 2021 at the age of 90.
Dr. Marvin Pipkin was the son of Daniel Moses and Sarah Catherine Moore Pipkin. Marvin Pipkin is known as the creator of the soft white light bulb, a task that he had been assigned as a fool's errand. Marvin also invented several other types of light bulbs as well as other scientific inventions. Dr. Marvin Pipkin is a member of the Polk County Public Schools Hall of Fame.
Wilbur A. Pipkin was the son of Daniel Moses and Sarah Catherine Moore Pipkin. He was the inventor of various citrus machinery, some of which are still used to this day, and he filed several patents. Like his brother, Wilbur A. Pipkin is also a member of the Polk County Public Schools Hall of Fame.
Beulah Pipkin was the daughter of Daniel Moses and Sarah Catherine Moore Pipkin. She recorded her family's history through various articles in the Polk County Historical Quarterly as well as an unpublished book.
Juanita Beville Pipkin (1890-1968) was the daughter-in-law of Daniel Moses and Sarah Catherine Moore Pipkin through her marriage to Reuben Oswald Pipkin (1885-1962). Together with her sons Curtis (1921-2012) and Ray (1917-2006), they ran the Pipkin Dairy as well as the Pipkin Ice Cream shop in Lakeland, Florida.
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