Guillermo “Papi” Garcia A., 89, of Pomona Park died Friday January 17, 2020 at the Putnam Community Medical Center. He was born on May 25, 1930 in Bogota Colombia, son of Lucio Garcia Escamilla and Leonor Archila Garcia. His family owned farms, growing coffee and cut flowers outside of Bogota. He always knew he would follow a career in agriculture.
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He graduated with an Agronomy Degree from the Escuela Agricola Panamericana in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. He then moved to Gainesville to attend the University of Florida, where in 1956 he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture. He was a member of Los Picaros, the Spanish Club at UF where he met Palatka-raised Mary Elizabeth Roberts. In 1957 they married, and he continued working in research at the University of Florida Agricultural Center until the birth of their first child, Mary Leonor.
They then moved to Bogota, Colombia in 1959. His fascination with research and plants continued at the Colombian Horticulture Department in Bogota where he managed research programs related to the development of new varieties of vegetable crops, pest and disease control, and as the Director for Raw Material Development for the FRUCO Corporation (1962-1967). During this time, they lived in Medellin and Cali as well. Their son, Guillermo Clyde “Bill” was born in Medellin.
Work took them to Costa Rica and Venezuela with the Del Monte Corporation (1967-1974) as the Technical Representative for Central America and Panama where he developed an agricultural research program for production of vegetable crops. He initiated and implemented extension programs and provided technical assistance for farmers. He was promoted to the Agricultural Manager for Del Monte in Venezuela and was responsible for quality, production and raw materials for processing. His experimental work resulted in increased yield and new varieties of commercial crops. In four years, he doubled the locally grown raw materials, reducing the need for foreign-grown crops in a rapidly growing domestic market.
In 1974 he was recruited by the H. J. Heinz Corporation as the Planning and Production Manager; responsible for planning, programming and coordinating factory production, inventory control, warehousing and storage' facilities for raw materials, ingredients and packing materials for all of Venezuela. He received the Honor of Merit Award from Heinz in 1986 for his spirit of collaboration and contributions to the industry.
He was most proud to become a US Citizen in 1982. When he retired in 1986, it was to Palatka and Putnam County he and Mary Elizabeth “Mary Lib” returned. He was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, the Pomona Park Neighborhood Watch, as well as the Lake Broward Association where he collaborated with UF-IFAS on water conservation. He was passionate about protecting the lake. He attended St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Crescent City where he was member of the Men’s Club and the Knights of Columbus. He was an adopted member of the Mary Lib’s Palatka 49ers and attended all the local reunions.
He is preceded in death by his parents Lucio and Leonor Garcia, his brother Rafael Garcia, and his wife of 53 years, Mary Elizabeth Roberts Garcia. He is survived by his children Mary Leonor of Pomona Park and his son Guillermo Clyde “Bill” of Jacksonville; sister-in-law Sandra W. Roberts; nieces and nephews Tance and Michael Roberts, John and Verna Roberts; grand nieces and nephew Taylor Elizabeth Roberts, Michael Zack Roberts, Jr. and Paityn Julian Roberts, all of St. Augustine. In Colombia he is also survived by his sister Leonor Garcia Trujillo and her children Jaime and Marisabel Trujillo, Diego and Adrianna Trujillo, Juan Trujillo, and Rodrigo and Dana Trujillo and his brother Rafael’s children Andres Garcia, Maria Clara Garcia and Patricia Garcia as well as thirteen grand nieces and nephews.
Papi’s greatest pleasures in life, after his family, included raising orchids, drinking coffee, and eating “chocolate-chocolate”.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held on Saturday January 25th at 10 am at the St. Monica Catholic Church in Palatka with Father Ron Camarda officiating. A reception will follow at the church after the burial at Oak Hill Cemetery. Please join us on Friday the 24th from 5-7 pm, for visitation and a Vigil Service at 6:30 pm, at Johnson-Overturf Funeral Home in Palatka.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the SJBCC Men’s Club Attn: Phil Rowe, PO Box 908, Crescent City Florida 32112 or the Lake Broward Association, PO Box 294, Pomona Park, Florida 32181.
Memories and condolences may be expressed to the family at Guillermo’s Book of Memories page at www.johnsonoverturffunerals.com.
Arrangements are entrusted to Johnson-Overturf Funeral Home in Palatka.