HAINES CITY — Mr. James B. Buster Pratt of Haines City, who had an extensive career in the Florida citrus industry and was inducted into the Citrus Hall of Fame, died of congestive heart failure Saturday (April 2, 2005) at Florida Regional Medical Center. He was 80. Mr. Pratt was born July 2, 1924, in Louisville, Ky. He attended The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., before joining the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. After the war, he moved to Haines City in 1946 but later served with the Marine Corps during the Korean War. He was 22 years old when he began working for the Citrus Experiment Station in Lake Alfred, where he began learning how to care for citrus crops, said his daughter, Elizabeth Gillette Gill Broadaway of Haines City. Mr. Pratt went on to have a long and accomplished career in the citrus industry. He retired from the Coca-Cola Food Division as assistant director of grove operations while also managing family citrus groves. He was a past president of the Florida State Horticultural Society, the Florida Citrus Nursery Association, Polk County Farm Bureau and the University of Florida Fruit Crops Association. He was a founding member, secretary and treasurer of the Citrus Research and Education Foundation. In 1993 he initiated the Deaprepes Task Force, concerned with protecting crops from exotic diseases and pests, and served as chairman until 2000. He received an award of merit for distinguished service in agriculture from Gamma Sigma Delta, the honor society of agriculture, and received the Citrus Achievement Award in 2004. Mr. Pratt was also a Haines City commissioner and was on the Haines City Chamber Education Task Force. He was named Haines City Pioneer of the Year in 2004. When he was inducted in 2001 into the Citrus Hall of Fame, filled with degree-holding members, he was very honored to be among people who had so much more formal education than he, his daughter said. He learned from the ground floor up, instead of college class training, she said. Mr. Pratt is survived by his wife of 60 years, Jean P. Pratt; daughters, Elizabeth Gillette Gill Broadaway, Haines City, Mary Glen LaCharite, Amelia Island, and Lillian Jamie Simpson, Winter Haven; son, James B. Gator Pratt Jr., Haines City; sisters, Patty P. Conrad, Lynchburg, Va., and Jeanne P. Miller, Ross, Calif.; and 10 grandchildren. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at First United Methodist Church in Haines City. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the First United Methodist Church, 21 S. Second St., Haines City, FL 33844, or the Citrus Research and Education. Oak Ridge Funeral Care.
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