Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`End of Era' at Beaches McCormick `the Person a Person Could Turn To'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`End of Era' at Beaches McCormick `the Person a Person Could Turn To'

Article excerpt

Jacksonville Beach businessman and civic leader J.T. McCormick,

known for his private philanthropy as well as his bold business

ability, died Thursday.

Mr. McCormick suffered a heart attack following a life of heart

problems.

He was 82.

The son of a millwright, Mr. McCormick's family moved to

Jacksonville Beach in 1919 when fire destroyed their

Jacksonville home, turning a camping trip to the beach into a

permanent move. Mr. McCormick still operated the business his

father started.

The business, B.B. McCormick and Sons, had ceased most of its

major activity in the past several years as Mr. McCormick worked

less, slipping away from its heyday as a heavy construction and

general contracting firm with international contracts. At one

time, the business was the largest employer in Jacksonville

Beach.

Mr. McCormick also served as Jacksonville Beach mayor from

1953-55.

"J.T.'s passing is really the end of an era here at the

beaches," said Ebbie LeMaster, a Ponte Vedra Beach resident who

was involved in area development work in the 1960s. "They were

really the last, the fellows who owned lots of land and were

able to move on from the old no-fence era.

"They'd bid these huge jobs. As J.T. got older, it just got to

be too much for him."

Jobs the company tackled included 22 airfields during World War

II, launching facilities at Patrick Air Force Base and an

800-man base camp for the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam. The company

shared in a $50 million site-development contract for the EPCOT

Center in 1979 and built the beach revetment that protects

beaches communities.

LeMaster said Mr. McCormick and his brother, Ben, were the

mainstays of the company. At times, the company employed as many

as 1,000 workers on construction jobs from roads to bridges to

airfields. J.T. McCormick ran the office and Ben did the field

work, LeMaster said.

"They were always fair and always honest," LeMaster said.

Mr. McCormick also was involved in civic work. His legacy

includes the donation of the archivist building for the Beaches

Area Historical Society and land for a classroom building named

for him at the Beaches Episcopal School in Jacksonville Beach.

In the past, Mr. McCormick was noted for a quieter

philanthropy. Years ago, when the economy was stagnant and work

scarce, McCormick paid grocery bills for his workers who charged

purchases at a small Jacksonville Beach store.

"He bought a lot of prom dresses and he paid a lot of

tuitions," said his daughter, Suzanne Taylor. "He was always the

person a person could turn to."

Mr. McCormick had heart problems throughout his life, Taylor

said.

"He was hospitalized twice for coronaries when he was in his

20s," she said. …

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