James B. Crooks


In September 1951 when Governor Fuller Warren asked Jessie Ball duPont to serve on the Florida Board of Control (forerunner of the Board of Regents), he spoke of her as “perhaps the state’s top taxpayer, [who] heads Florida’s biggest business-banking empire” (p. 201). The governor’s description exaggerated Mrs. duPont’s control over the St. Joe Paper Company, the Florida National Bank, and the Florida East Coast Railroad, but there was little question that she was one of the wealthiest persons in Florida. Mrs. duPont and her husband, Alfred I. duPont, had moved to Florida from Delaware in 1926 partly to escape family feuds, in part because Jessie preferred the warmer climate, and also because Alfred saw the potential for economic development in this changing state.