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Fritz Carl Stein, Jr.

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Fritz Carl Stein, Jr., 1985

Fritz Carl Stein, Jr. (1931- ) was born into a Belle Glade farm family, the grandson of Wisconsin farmers Hans Juergen Stein (1868-1930), from Kaunas, Russia, now in Lithuania, and his wife Emily (1877-1935), from Latvia. On his brother’s advice, in 1915 Hans sold everything and brought his family to Chosen, now Belle Glade. He was the first lock tender at the Hillsborough Canal; he also grew beans and cabbage and gradually bought more land. The farm was continued by one of his two sons, Fritz Carl Stein, Sr. (1903-1957), who sold some of the land to the state to pay off debts and started again debt-free.

Fritz Stein, Jr. earned an agriculture degree from the University of Florida and served in the Army and Army Reserves. After replacing vegetables with sugar cane in the 1960s, he was a founding member, director, and vice president of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative. Stein was appointed to the board of the South Florida Water Management District 1987-1991 by Governor Bob Martinez and was one of the first Glades farmers to test his water, while encouraging others to follow suit. He served on the boards of the South Florida Conservancy District, the Environmental Land Management Study Commission, the Palm Beach County Area Planning Board, Federal Land Bank of South Florida, and the Belle Glade Housing Authority, where he helped add 700 homes for farm labor. He was president of the Florida Sugar Cane League, and a founding trustee of Glades Day School.

The Belle Glade Chamber of Commerce named Stein Belle Glade Citizen of the Year (1982) and Agri-Industrial Man of the Year (1988). He received the Award of Merit from the Boy Scouts of America Glades District in 1991, and was a 2008 inductee into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Fritz Stein Farms was continued by three of Stein’s sons, Fritz “Sonny” Stein III, Michael Stein, and Tim Stein. When the Stein family was named 1989-90 Everglades Farm Family of the Year by the Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau, it was said that, “[t]he Fritz Stein family represents the finest traditions of the American farm family through their unselfish dedication to family, farm, and community.”

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