The Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida is mourning the loss of its founder George H. Wedgworth, who died Wednesday, Nov. 16 at age 88.
The cooperative’s board of directors, staff and employees offered their heartfelt condolences to the Wedgworth family.
“George left his mark on every facet of our business, Florida agriculture as a whole and the entire Glades community,” President & CEO Tony Contreras said. “He was a great friend, mentor, a true leader and a man of the highest integrity.”
“His visionary business acumen helped lead the sugar industry’s success in Florida and nationwide despite the threats on many fronts,” Chairman John Hundley added. “George was especially forward thinking when it came to environmental issues, leading the sugar industry’s environmental committee going back to the late 1960s in the protection of clean air, water and the protection of our fertile soil.”
Wedgworth touched the lives of many people through his active involvement in the community, his leadership and formation of many agricultural trade organizations. He was known for bringing people together, building consensus and looking out for the greater good. He received many awards for his contributions to agriculture, the sugar industry and the community, including induction into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1994 and being named Sugar Man of the Year in 2005.
Wedgworth formed the cooperative in 1960. The first crop was grown in 1962 on 22,000 acres of land. At the helm of the organization for 50 years, he increased financial returns and stability to all 45 member-growers of the cooperative. Today, the cooperative processes sugarcane grown on 75,000 acres producing 4.2 million tons of cane, yielding 482,000 tons of raw sugar and 25 million gallons of blackstrap molasses.
Wedgworth partnered with Florida Crystals Corporation in 1998. Today the refining company, ASR Group International, expands across the globe and is the world’s largest sugar refining company.
The Wedgworth family owns Wedgworth Farms, a 5,000-acre sugar cane farm in the Glades.