Feature Story and photos by Larry H. Oskin and Michelle Delaney
Thirty bronze plaques have been placed along the entire brick walkway between West Montrose and West Minneola Streets in Downtown Clermont. The plaques were dedicated by individuals, organizations, and families wanting to recognize and honor a member or an individual who served the community.
The honorees on the Eastside of the Art walkway include Ann Dupee, Richard H. Bell, Marvin ‘Pappy’ Boykin, Bonnie Homan Ray, George Edward Hovis, J.M. Vander Meer, Willie Montgomery, Wolfe Family, McLean Family, George and Lillian Karst, Richard Langley, Gene, Mary & The Langley Family, The Pool Family, and the Oswalt Family.
The honorees on the Westside of the Art walkway include Ray Goodgame, Gail L. Ash, Diane Travis, Timothy Bates, Jim Pervis, The Kron Family, Chris Smith, Ryan Stringfellow, Troy Stackhouse, Lawrence Rescoe, Jane R. Hartge, Suzanna Hartge, Lester Cole, and Paul Rountree.
For the next few weeks, the South Lake Tablet will highlight these people who in some way contributed to the development of Clermont.
We’ll start the series with four of the honorees on the East Side of the ArtWalk.
Ann Dupee: Affectionately known as “Miss Clermont”, everyone loved her, her stories and her invaluable support of Clermont, Lake County, and Florida. She always wore a fun hat, flower, costume or fashionable accessories for every season, holiday and special event.
Ann was the former publisher of the South Lake Press and a respected voice for endless community, social and political issues in the Clermont area. She was said to be the ‘Le Grande Dame’ of Clermont and Lake County.
Dupee was born Eleanor Ann Killian in Yakima, Washington. She held a variety of interesting jobs, including rodeo usher, photographer and advance girl for the Ice Capades. She met her late husband, George Dupee, when he worked for the Wall Street Journal. They got married after just two weeks and ended up in Clermont.
They purchased the South Lake Press in 1968 and operated it for the next 25 years. After selling the South Lake Press, she remained on as a contributing writer and kept the history of Clermont alive with her “Remember When” column.
Dupee was a former Clermont City Councilwoman and the first woman to be inducted into the Kiwanis Hall of Fame. She was a member of the Lake County Women’s Hall of Fame, the Lake County Business Hall of Fame and the Lake-Sumter State College Hall of Fame. There is an exhibit with some of her belongings at the Clermont Historic Village.
She was a South Lake Chamber Ambassador, a Kiwanian, an active member of Beta Theta and the Cooper Memorial Library Association.
Her voice and passion for serving others will not be forgotten.
Richard H. Bell was the son of Harry and Mildred Van Cott Bell. He was born in Newark, NJ in 1935. In college, Bell was in the Theta Chi Fraternity and graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey with a degree in Business and Accounting. On March 21, 1964, he married Toni Baker in New Jersey.
Richard went to work in the family-owned business, Bell Ceramics. In 1966, Bell Ceramics moved to Clermont and he became President of the company which was located on East Avenue by the shores of Lake Minneola. For over 50 years, he was a leader in his industry, selling products worldwide. Under his direction, Richard founded the International Foundation of Doll Makers whose artistry was known around the world.
Richard was active in the south Lake community. He coached for the Babe Ruth Baseball League and, after retiring, he played softball as a member of the Ron Becker Pirates softball team.
Richard was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Clermont, holding offices including President, Lieutenant Governor, Director of Key Club and Chairman of Sponsored Youth Projects. The Kiwanians recognized Richard’s service and in 1989, he received the Kiwanis International Hixon Award and the Florida District of Kiwanis Davis Award.
He proudly supported Beta Theta, ESA and was twice named their Zeus.
The community further honored him with the Boy Scout Golden Eagle Award in 1988. The South Lake Chamber of Commerce awarded him Gem of the Hills Award in 1989. The Lake County Schools awarded him the Senior Volunteer for Lake County Schools in 2004 for his innovative program of Kiwanians reading with children with difficulties. Richard passed away in 2012.
Marvin ‘Pappy’ Boykin was born on April 27, 1912 in Irwin County, Ocilla GA and passed away in Minneola on May 28, 1989 at 77 years old.
Marvin “Pappy” Boykin was married to his forever love Myrtle Elizabeth Laminack in 1933, in Irwin County, GA. Boykin was the Mayor of Minneola for three terms through 1950-51, 1955 and 1967-1969. He was Deacon for many years at the Minneola Alliance Church.
The family spokesperson notes, “We would love to see our community become enriched by the arts. We know it will help facilitate new ideas and creativity to the entire business community, bringing in tourism that helps with local business. We believe the arts bring communities together and help build bridges between cultures. It also helps us to educate and unite our community. That is what Marvin Boykin would have loved the most!” Boykin’s favorite saying was, “Can’t never did nothing. Never could, never will.” He had a great sense of our community, the majestic lakes and the long drives over beautiful rolling hills. The thing the Boykin family cherishes most of all about the community is the memories of a wonderful life filled with family and many good friends”.
Bonnie Homan Ray: Bonnie and her family moved to Clermont in 1970 from Ohio. Her children – Greg, Sandi and Susie attended local Clermont schools. Her career dream was always to become a successful head librarian. She enrolled in UCF which was then FTU, to get her Bachelor’s Degree. She received her Master’s Degree in Library science from USF. After becoming Clermont’s Head Librarian at Cooper Memorial Library, Ray productively managed a challenging team of board members as well as a large staff. She was actively involved in all affairs that affected the Clermont City Council, Clermont Government, the South Lake County, and Florida.
Bonnie loved the library! She was known to live it, sleep it and dream about it! Her favorite saying was, “The readers are the leaders!” She is known for her endless creativity to help children and adults with illiteracy learn how to read as well as to offer an array of inspiring educational programs and free community events. She regularly organized exciting community events in the library for the betterment of the library and the entire South Lake Community. In 1995, she was honored with the Gem of The Hills Award by the South Lake Chamber of Commerce.
Next week, four more honorees will be featured in the South Lake Tablet.