Walter Lane PRESTON
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PRESTON, Walter Lane

died October 9, 2016 surrounded by his loving family. Walter was born Christmas Day, 1928 in Tampa, son of Alice and Whiting Preston. While growing up in Tampa, he spent much of his time playing golf at Palma Ceia Golf Course and competed in many local tournaments. Walter attended The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and graduated from Jesuit High School in Tampa in 1946. He attended Babson Business Institute, but left to serve our country in the US Navy during the Korean Conflict from 1950 to 1954. Walter served on the aircraft carrier, USS Bennington, as a radio traffic operator on the flight deck. In May 1951, he married Flavia Florez, "the love of his life." Walter and Flavia made Bradenton their home where he joined the family business, Manatee Fruit Company, founded in 1892 by his grandfather. It is one of the oldest corporations in the state of Florida. The Preston family produced and traded in agricultural commodities for several generations. Walter and his father, Whiting, expanded from not only growing vegetables and citrus, but into the floral industry with flowers and plants, making the Manatee Fruit Company one of the largest domestic floral producers in the country. Manatee Fruit Company was recognized as a brand for top quality products throughout the industry in the United States and Canada. Flavia once described her husband as "honest and hardworking with an attitude of responsibility and love toward family and friends." His passion and determination in the floral industry enabled him to impact the lives of so many who enjoy the meaning and practice of giving flowers.

He was involved in many organizations as a leader and advocate for agriculture and the floral industry. Some of his achievements and recognitions include: President of the North American Gladiolus Council, Chairman of the Floriboard Task Force, the Governor's Task Force on the Future of Agriculture, Outstanding Horticulturist of the Year in 1976 by the Department of Horticulture of the University of Florida, and the 1986 Outstanding Florida Agriculturist. Walter was recipient of the Leland T. Kintzele Distinguished Service Award given for outstanding service and dedication to the floral industry in 1995. He served as the chairman of the American Floral Marketing Council for the Society of the American Florists and as a trustee of the American Floral Endowment. In 2012 Walter received the distinguished honor of induction into the Floriculture Hall of Fame. As a lifelong resident, he was asked to service on the Board of Directors of First Florida Bank. Through his love and enjoyment of golf, he became a member of Bradenton Country Club and Sara Bay Country Club and he traveled, which gave him the opportunity to play many golf courses.

Walter was predeceased by his beloved wife of 61 years, Flavia. He is survived by his daughters, Lane Kimbrel Stamm (George) of Atlanta, GA., Patricia Priester (John) of Charlotte, NC, Ann Carey (John) of Jacksonville, FL; son, Whiting Preston (Dana) of Palmetto, Fl.; 11 grandchildren, Preston Kimbrel (Lindsay), Daniel Kimbrel, Alison Rainero (Stevan), Jay Priester (Katie), Hayden Priester, Patrick Priester, Whit Carey, Kate Light (Thomas), Andrew Carey, Walter Preston, Eva Preston; seven great-grandchildren; sister, Jane Preston Fitzgerald (Sarasota). He was preceded in death by his son-in-law, Charles Daniel Kimbrel and brother-in-law, Richard Crumbly Fitzgerald.

The family's heartfelt thanks go to Mr. Preston's exceptional caregivers, Zet Thomas, Pat Baird, Kim Christeson, Carrie Harmon, Susan Tyree, and Kelli Pine.

The visitation will be held Thursday, October 13 from 5-7 pm at Griffith Cline Funeral Home, 720 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton, Florida. A funeral service will be held Friday, October 14 at 11 am at Griffith Cline Funeral Home. Interment will be private. Donations may be made in honor of Walter Lane Preston to Saints Peter and Paul's Catholic Church, 2850-75th St.W., Bradenton, FL 34209 or to Tidewell Hospice of Bradenton, 3355-26th St. W., Bradenton, Fl 34205, or The Wounded Warrior Project.

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Published in Tampa Bay Times on Oct. 12, 2016.
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Memories & Condolences
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12 entries
November 1, 2016
Walter gave me my first job in horticulture when I was 16 and now 40 years later I'm blessed with a wonderful career in the same field. I would not be where I am today without Walter and the opportunities he gave and the example he set. He demanded of others as he did of himself. Gracious, professional and leader all characterized Walter. I am grateful to have worked for him.
Mark Wilson
October 14, 2016
Our prayers go out to the Preston family during your time of sorrow.

The Stephens family (Alfonso)
October 14, 2016
i have had the privlege of knowing Mr. Preston for many years. When he would come to the office, the office would light up with his warm smile and personality. he will be truly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this time
Diane Shafer
October 14, 2016
Walter was a true gentleman. We used to pass in the hallway at the Barnett center where each of us kept an office. He was always forthcoming, engaging and friendly. I have nothing but fond memories and mourn his passing. I send my condolences to the entire Walter Preston family
Dick Olson
October 13, 2016
You meant so much in my life. Rest in peace Walter
John Lane Valentine
October 13, 2016
Heartfelt sympathies to your entire family. He will be missed.
Mayor Bryant and City Commission
October 12, 2016
Thoughts and prayers to the Preston family, during this difficult time. Walter was a wonderful man with countless accomplishments. May your memories give you some comfort.
Marie Willis
October 12, 2016
I had the privilege of knowing Walter,I remember one time he told me ,"It's my wife's birthday and I am taking the day off so we can go to Tampa and celebrate ".It always stayed with me that as busy as he was he always had time for Family.We lost a true Southern Gentleman,Rest Well Walter
Bill Russell ,Barcelona,Spain
October 12, 2016
Walter left a legacy for all gladiolus growers .
It was a privilege and honor to be his friend.
Mike Petro- Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
michael petro
October 12, 2016
my condolences to jane p fitzgerald. I am from tampa and knew your family well. think we went to school.together
doug martin
October 12, 2016
Both Mr. & Mrs. Preston were a fun and great influence in my life. They are in my heart. Sending love to the entire family. Libby Manson Bigham
Libby Manson Bigham
October 11, 2016
Walter always had a twinkle in his eye and a bright smile for Greg and Me when we visited from Ct!! Such a fine southern gentleman!
Cathleen Carey-Corgan
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