David Edwin Southall
David Edwin Southall left this world on January 7, 2020. Born in Buffalo, NY, August 21, 1945, David pursued a wide variety of interests with a passion, his entire life. With degrees in Forestry and Biology, and a Masters in Botany, he founded Botanicus, a landscape/nursery/greenhouse operation in Buffalo. This brought him to SW Florida where he created a large nursery in Bonita Springs to supply his northern business. He was VP of Education for Associated Landscape Contractors of America, a Florida State Certified Biologist, and developed the original Master Naturalist Program for the Conservancy of SW Florida.
Boy Scouts of America was a very important part of David's life. He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and remained actively involved in many ways. Camp Miles was created for Boy Scouts by a transfer of use of state land, largely through David's efforts. He volunteered in the early development of that camp, building the Nature/Ecology Lodge, and serving as summer camp Nature Director for many years. After getting cooperation from the NRA to build a shooting range there, he developed the Florida Council of BSA Shooting Sports Program. As an NRA Training Counselor, David trained many Certified Instructors within the Scout community, to ensure safe and correct firearm use was practiced by all. Scoutmaster for Troop 38, he led many young people on High Adventure activities such as hiking the Appalachian Trail. Historical reenacting was another passion of David's. BSA Venture Crew 1838 learned lots of Florida history while being involved in events throughout the state.
After volunteering at the Collier County Museum for years, David took what he called his "retirement job" there. The 5 acres evolved into a Florida Native Plant Garden of renown. Old Florida Festival is still held there, bringing history to life. As Curator of Education, he developed programs and special events for all ages and welcomed thousands of schoolchildren and visitors, both local and from around the world, to the Museum. Outreach to the Collier County Library and many other places kept him doing what he loved—talking. David was a true teacher and researched extensively to ensure he had all the facts before making them into fascinating presentations. Florida history, science, astronomy, ornithology, etc. were among his more than 300 Programs.
A Viet Nam Veteran of the First Infantry Division, David attributed his survival skills in combat there to his early Scout training. He led others wisely and helped the local people endure. Three Purple Hearts in just over one year took their toll. He came back home and went right to work helping fellow veterans pick up pieces of their lives.
In recent years David's passion for plants and horticulture led him to the Brazilian jungles, tropical islands like Cuba, Barbados and The Bahamas. His garden and greenhouse occupied many happy hours, as did his shop. He listened to hundreds of books on tape while working on his favorite projects.
David has three daughters, Diana Southall and Devon Southall in Buffalo and Jennifer Southall in Bonita Springs. Four grandchildren are missing Grandpa Dave.
His wife, Suzy Valentine, has three sons, all residing in Brazil. They also miss this wonderful stepfather.
There will be a Celebration of David's Life on Saturday, February 8th from 3-5 PM. Unity Church 28285 Imperial Parkway, Bonita Springs. Donations in his name may be made to Troop 109 at First United Methodist Church, Attn. Mark Cecil, Scoutmaster, 27690 Shriver Ave., Bonita Springs 34135.
Published in Naples Daily News from Jan. 21 to Jan. 26, 2020.