FGCU lowers its flag in honor of founding father Ben Hill Griffin III
Ben Hill Griffin III, a founding father of Florida Gulf Coast University, died Saturday.
He was 78.
Griffin, who was born in Frostproof, was an iconic agriculture business leader and a major benefactor in Southwest Florida.
He donated 1,000 acres of land for what would become FGCU. In appreciation, Lee County commissioners renamed a portion of Treeline Avenue to Ben Hill Griffin Parkway in his honor. Griffin Hall at FGCU is also named for him.
Griffin also directed his family’s company, Alico Inc., to donate $5 million to found Alico Arena at FGCU.
The university said Sunday that the FGCU flag will fly at half-staff until midnight Friday in Griffin’s honor.
Statement from FGCU President Mike Martin:
“On July 25, Florida lost an iconic business leader and FGCU lost a founding father, visionary and benefactor with the passing of Ben Hill Griffin III. Ben Hill led the way in creating FGCU with donating the land on which our campus sits, financial support, and political advocacy. Both directly and through his (then) company Alico, Inc., he built a legacy which will serve students and the people of Southwest Florida for generations to come.
“Ben Hill was proud of his University and has remained involved in its growth and ongoing development, including with endowed chairs in the Lutgert College of Business, and Alico Arena for athletics. His generosity supported other Florida educational institutions and many worthy causes.
“On a personal level, Ben Hill was a long-standing friend. He was kind, loyal and always supportive. He will be missed by many and remembered fondly by all who were fortunate to come to know him.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ben Hill’s family. He was a special man.”