Remembering Doyle Conner

Cindy Zimmerman

doyle-connerThe name and the face are probably more familiar to those in the Florida agriculture industry than elsewhere, but Doyle Conner should be remembered as a great “agvocate,” before there ever was such a term.

The former Florida Commissioner of Agriculture passed away yesterday, just one day shy of his 84th birthday. Doyle, a lifelong Democrat who grew up raising livestock and farming in North Florida, was in college when he was elected to the state House. He became the youngest Speaker of the House ever just a few years later and finished his career in public service by holding the elected office of Commissioner of Agriculture for 30 years.

Current Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam says Doyle “brought a passion for the land and the needs of Florida farmers and ranchers to his role and tirelessly promoted Florida Agriculture around the world. He modernized the Department of Agriculture and championed its evolution to include Consumer Service responsibilities. … Doyle was a mentor to me and defined the role of Commissioner of Agriculture for all others to follow.”

doyle-carlyDoyle served as Commissioner from 1961-1991 and we had the pleasure of not only reporting on his activities professionally during our network days in Florida, but also knowing him personally. This photo shows him in 1988 holding our middle daughter Carly when she was not much more than a year old during one of Doyle’s Legislative Trail Rides.

Back in the days when we still had regional NAFB meetings, we instituted the Doyle Conner Annual Fishing Tournament in the southern region to complement the long time North Carolina Commissioner Jim Graham’s Barnyard golf tournament.

Doyle will lie in state at Florida’s Historic Capitol on Thursday, December 20, prior to his funeral service and burial in Tallahassee. May he rest in peace.

Read more about Doyle’s life.