Smith was born in 1928 in Webster. He enlisted in the Air Force after high school. After his tour of duty, he earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Florida in 1953. That year, he accepted a job as an assistant county extension agent in Citrus County.
He was promoted to county agent a year later, working in Hernando and Liberty counties. Smith was elected to the Hernando County Commission in 1966 and served 12 years. In 1967, he became general manager of the Hernando Egg Cooperative.
In 1978, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives where he served until 1992. He helped create the Market Improvement Working Capital Trust Fund, to be used for the operation and maintenance of agricultural facilities. He wrote the first bill on Everglades restoration and helped draft legislation to provide excise tax exemption for fuels used in for agricultural purposes.
“I helped and opposed Chuck Smith on many issues,” said former House member Everett Kelly, “but there was never any doubt that if you attacked agriculture he would be your worst enemy. He worked tirelessly in all parts of the legislative process to protect and promote agriculture and would take on the highest or the lowest state or national government official in defense of agriculture.”
In 1989, he was named Legislator of the Year by the Florida Farm Bureau. In 1995, he received the Agriculture Volunteer of the Year Award from the Hillsborough County Cooperative Extension Service.
Smith is a founding member of the Florida Agricultural Coalition. He is currently serving as executive vice president of the Florida Poultry Federation and director of the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame Foundation.
Roy Gene Davis
Roy Gene Davis was born in Fitzgerald, Ga., in 1932, and moved to Brandon, Fla., when he was three years old. He received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Florida in 1953. After spending a number of years in the Air Force, Davis moved to Tampa and became manager of the garden department at Sears. He went on to manage the garden department at Montgomery Ward before buying 20 acres and establishing his first nursery.
Opening in 1962, Tampa Wholesale Nursery was an immediate success. In 1979, Davis and his wife, Leta, entered into a partnership with Pete and Bette Walker to form Big Tree Nursery. Big Tree also found success, and the Davis family bought out the Walkers’ interest in 1992.