Remembering the "Boy Wonder" of Florida Politics

Jan 31, 2017

Doyle Conner came to be known as “the boy wonder of Florida politics.” In 1950, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives at the age of 20 while a sophomore at the University of Florida and remains the youngest person ever elected to the Florida Legislature.

At 31, Conner became the state’s first elected agriculture commissioner. He won reelections and served in that position for 30 years until his retirement. His son, Doyle Conner Jr., says his dad loved the job. 

“They tried to get him to run for governor. Jack Kennedy tried to get him to go up to Washington to be his Secretary of Agriculture. He wanted to be Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture most of his life. Once he achieved that goal, he just wanted to be the best at that job he can be," Conner Jr. says.

Florida House Representative Doyle Conner.
Credit Florida Memory Blog

Conner is perhaps best-known for his achievements as agriculture commissioner. His son says Conner helped eradicate the Mediterranean fruit fly and led early efforts to market Florida’s farming products around the world.

“He would take mission trips [and took] one of the first groups into Russia and China to set up trade ties between those countries and Florida,” Conner Jr. says.

After retiring, Conner returned to his Monticello ranch to raise cattle and horses. Conner Jr. says before passing away in 2012, his father taught him to always love Florida’s people, places and history.