BY MILT THOMAS
Indian River citrus pioneer, Barnette Ellis “Barney” Greene, Jr., age 90, passed away on May 31 after a brief illness. A fifth generation Floridian, Greene was born in Orlando on September 30, 1922. He graduated from the University of Florida in Horticulture, but his education was interrupted by World War II, serving as a B-29 bombadier in the Pacific. He married Hariot Mae Hughes after returning from the military and then completed his education. The Greenes moved to this area after college and went to work for American Fruit Growers in Ft. Pierce. There he met another early citrus figure, Bob Edsall, and they worked together for 13 years until he went into business for himself, becoming one of the region’s most prominent citrus growers and cattle ranchers.
Greene was instrumental in developing the area’s first concentrate processing plant, Indian River Processors, in 1973, which was purchased by Ocean Spray when they went into the grapefruit juice business. He purchased the Ocean Spray packinghouse on north U.S. 1 in 1996 and is now headquarters for Greene River Packing. In 1995 he was inducted into the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame, and in 2001, elected to the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Hariot, were founding members of the Florida Limousin Cattle Association, where he served as president and director. He established the Orange Avenue Citrus Growers Association in St. Lucie County to create a drainage district on the former Ashland Oil property. In 1984, he was an original investor and organizing director of the Indian River National Bank, currently PNC Bank. Greene established and funded an agricultural school in the Philippines, Greene Academy, in 1965. A long time member of the United Methodist Church, he served on the church’s Florida Conference Board of Missions, and in 1970 was elected to the national United Methodist General Board of Missions. He and Hariot contributed extensively toward completion of the local church’s Christian Life Center and helped establish the daycare center.
A major contributor to the University of Florida, he received the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni and Friends Award of Distinction in 1998. In 1989, the Greenes established the Indian River Community College Agricultural Endowment Fund. The couple was recognized in 2004 as joint Entrepreneurs of the Year, the first couple to be honored jointly.
His innumerable accomplishments as a businessman and philanthropist have helped shape the fabric of our community and the lives of many people from Vero Beach to the University of Florida and as far away as the Philippines.
Greene is survived by his beloved wife, Hariot, his children Janie Elizabeth Greene, Ellis Sutherland Greene, Griffin Aubrey Greene and Kelly Foster Greene as well as all the grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be directed to support the First United Methodist Church, 1750 20th Street, Vero Beach Fl 32960 or the University of Floridaís Center for Movement Disorders indicating a gift in memory of Barney Greene, payable to the UF Foundation PO Box 100243, Gainesville, FL 32610-0243. Visitation will be from 5:00 ñ 7:00 p.m., Friday, June 7 at First United Methodist Church. A Celebration of Barney Greeneís Life will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, June 8 at First United Methodist Church. An online guest book is available at http://www.strunkfuneralhome.com.