George Edward Hovis was born in Frederickstown, Missouri on June 16, 1934, and peacefully departed at the Mike Conley Cornerstone Hospice House in Clermont, Florida on August 31, 2023.

George, also known affectionately as Hovis, Ed and Coach, was the second of five children of Opal Ernestine Hovis. George spent his formative years in Missouri and Michigan where he credited his Scout Master, Russell Coman, and his bandleader, for positively influencing his life, directing him towards, as he would say, doing good in the world as opposed to spending his life in jail.

As a teenager, his Mom and four siblings moved to Arcadia and then to Wauchula, Florida where his mother, Opal, worked for the local newspaper and where George attended and graduated from Hardee County High School in 1953, where George stood out academically and athletically, excelling in his studies, football and basketball.

After high school, George briefly served in the Army during the Korean War, but when the war ended just as he completed basic training, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville on the G.I. Bill, where he graduated with a degree in Business Administration in 1960.

While at the University of Florida, he met Betty York Harrell and the two were married. After working for Florida Power and Light for a couple of years, he decided to go back to law school. George attended the University of Florida Law School and obtained his Juris Doctor in 1964 and was admitted to practice law in the State of Florida shortly thereafter.

George and Betty initially settled in Leesburg, Florida after law school, where George worked as an associate with the Davis McLin law firm. They settled in Clermont, Florida in 1965 where George initially set up a branch of the Leesburg law firm. He decided to open his own practice. George and Betty were thrilled when they were able to buy a home for George’s mom, Opal, off Osceola Street in Clermont when she retired. The home overlooked Jaycee Beach, was within walking distance of Opal’s Church, First Baptist of Clermont, and it became a family gathering hub for many years. In December 1967, George and Betty welcomed their first child, daughter Sherri Lynn, and had their second child, daughter Frances Marie, in June 1974.  

After 27 years of marriage, George and Betty divorced and George later went on to marry Judith Swearingin Wolfe Hovis in 1992 and added her family to his, including her two children, Lawson Lewis Wolfe II “Tad,” and Denise Wolfe Wallace. George came to know and truly love the Clermont community and actively served civically in many endeavors.  Early in his career, he served as City Judge and as the Clermont Chamber of Commerce President where he was instrumental in bringing the show “You Don’t Say” to film in Clermont in February 1968 and where he attended many events at what was to become Walt Disney World on behalf of the city.

George was active in the Clermont Jaycees for many years, along with his dear friends Buddy Oswalt and Claude Smoak, and was involved with the establishment of the Green Valley Country Club. George served on the Heart of Florida Girl Scout council and was a women’s and girls’ softball coach for many years, coaching the team “The Pebbles” from when his first daughter was 8 until his second daughter was 12, during which time he presented a total of 75 softball gloves to girls who took his challenge to improve their grades.

George was active in the Head Start, Ace, and Renaissance programs and started a Teacher’s Appreciation Breakfast early on which he restarted many years later and which morphed into a Teacher’s Appreciation Breakfast which is still held yearly.

Professionally, George practiced law in the Clermont area for over 40 years and served many clients well, including representing South Lake Hospital during most of that time where he was instrumental in the merger with Orlando Regional and with the establishment of the South Lake Foundation.

He received many honors throughout the years in recognition of his civic and professional endeavors, including an Award of Appreciation for Outstanding Contribution toward the development of education in Lake County, 1988; Recognition for distinguished and dedicated service by South Lake Memorial Hospital for serving on its Board of Trustees from July, 1979-May, 1988; Appreciation for service on Lake-Sumter Community College District Board of Trustees from 1995-1999; South Lake Chamber of Commerce, Citizen of the Year 2000; Humanitarian Award at the South Lake Black Achievers Awards Banquet, February 15, 2002; “Upholding Principles of the Four Way Test,” South Lake County Rotary Club, 2003-2004; Heritage Award, South Lake Chamber of Commerce, Business Awards Luncheon, October, 2006; and the 2009 Community Service Award, Lake County Business Hall of Fame.

George was recognized at the South Lake County 2002 Boy Scout Golden Eagle Luncheon as the Honoree and told his daughter Frances that it was one of his proudest and best days of his life because his former Scout Master, Russell Coman, was in attendance and he was able to publicly credit and thank Mr. Coman for shaping him into the man he became.

Perhaps his favorite honor of all time, however, was having the “Hovis” sub named after him by Stafford’s Subs in Clermont. George could not have been successful professionally without the amazing employees who worked hard with and for him throughout the years. Two of his longest-serving paralegals, Christine Stalnaker and Diana Beighley, were not only his employees but also became family. When not working or serving the community, you could find George in his happy place- developing a piece of land or tending to his own property mowing on his tractor.

George also loved spending time with his family, Opening Day of Dove Season and hosting large gatherings, such as huge Easter Egg hunts. George was predeceased by his loving wife Judith S. Hovis, stepson Lawson Lewis Wolfe II “Tad”, mother Opal Ernestine Hovis, brothers Steve Hovis, Wayne Hovis and Harmon Hovis.

George is survived by his daughters Sherri Webster, Frances Merritt (Jason), step-daughter Denise Wallace (David), grandchildren Noah Webster, Eli Webster, Max Webster, Cate Webster, Gabrielle Webster, Isabella Webster, John Paul Webster, Michelle Webster, Kathryn Merritt, Aiden Merritt, Samantha Eicholtz, Natalie Anastasia, Joshua Wallace, Ben Wolfe, Jessica Allen, Joshua Wolfe, 6 great-grandchildren, his sister Nell Grice and numerous nieces and nephews.

George received loving, tender care in his final days by the amazing nurses, aides, chaplains and staff at Cornerstone Hospice and is now finally released from the ravages of the Alzheimer’s Disease that tormented him for so long.

George is a Christian who will be celebrated in a service at
Living Hope Methodist Church 
950 7th Street, Clermont
on Friday, September 8, 2023,
beginning at 10 am.
The family welcomes all who wish to attend.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in George’s honor to the Cornerstone Mike Conley Hospice House in Clermont, where he received excellent care in his final moments on this earth.

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