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D. Guy McMullen, member of pioneer family, always ready with a quip and a smile

CLEARWATER — Without fail, D. Guy McMullen stood when guests entered the living room. He held the door open for women and pulled their chairs back at the table.

He didn't believe in bad moods, at least not the kind others could see, and held a verse from Ecclesiastes close to his heart.

Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.

He preferred to give away land rather than money, and jobs over handouts.

His grandfather mustered that same can-do spirit nearly 160 years ago as one of the first settlers in Pinellas County.

Mr. McMullen, an oil entrepreneur and the oldest member of one of the county's founding families, died Thursday at home. He was 102.

He always seemed to have a quip ready, as if a part of his mind were devoted to searching for one at all times.

"I've got as much hair as a cue ball," said Paul McMullen, his son, who runs McMullen Oil. "About two years ago he saw me and he said, 'Paul, I think your part is getting wider.' "

He could turn the humor on himself.

Paul McMullen, 72, recalled an incident in which his mother, Laura, was grilling his father about a commitment he had made to her. After several explanations about how he couldn't do what she had asked, his wife said, "I am having a difficult time believing that story."

"He said, 'You know what? I'm having a difficult time believing it, too,' " their son said.

According to Bill Justice, a former Clearwater High School principal and city commissioner who knew Mr. McMullen for more than 60 years, "I never saw him when he looked dejected in any way. He was always happy and joking. People around him were happy because he was one of the jokers."

His family's story begins in 1842, when grandfather James P. McMullen climbed on a horse and left Quitman, Ga., for Florida, three years before Florida was a state. The 19-year-old, who suffered from tuberculosis, was given a rifle, a blanket and an order by his family to get well.

A few years later, his health restored by sun and saltwater, he went back to Georgia, returning to Clearwater with six brothers. Some McMullens moved to Plant City or North Florida, but most stayed in the Tampa Bay area.

Family members became ranchers, judges and politicians. In 1884, M. Joel McMullen was one of three co-founders of the St. Petersburg Times.

Hundreds in the clan have gathered every July 4 since 1925, including the peak year 1936, when 1,200 relatives showed up.

Born in his family's home in 1908, Mr. McMullen graduated from Clearwater High School in 1928. He played football at the University of Florida as a walk-on, but the Depression forced him back home.

His work ethic led him to opportunities. He managed a gas station, then entered into a partnership with Standard Oil, owning more than a dozen gas stations. He bought citrus groves and real estate. He gave away chunks of land, too, such as the property that now houses McMullen-Booth Elementary School and part of Wall Springs Park.

He stayed loyal to University of Florida football and supported amateur athletics throughout his life. Gators coach Urban Meyer sent a congratulatory note to Mr. McMullen on his 100th birthday in 2008, along with an autographed photo of quarterback Tim Tebow.

Cuesta Rey cigars sent him a box of cigars after an executive noticed Mr. McMullen smoking the brand in a birthday photo from the St. Petersburg Times.

At that same birthday, his son said, Mr. McMullen admitted to his family that it was hard getting old.

"I'm at the stage of life where all of my friends have passed on," Mr. McMullen told well-wishers. He paused a couple of beats, then added, "But all of my enemies have passed on, too."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or ameacham@sptimes.com.

.Biography

Daniel Guy McMullen

Born: Feb. 13, 1908.

Died: Aug. 5, 2010.

Survivors: Son Paul McMullen and his wife, Janet; daughters Linda Davidson and her husband, Ivan, and Laura Weikel and her husband, Ted; sisters Sharon Sanborn and her husband, Gene, and Mary Shaw; three grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; numerous extended family members.

Service: Visitation 6 to 8 p.m. today, Moss-Feaster Funeral Home, 693 S Belcher Road. Service 11 a.m. Thursday, First United Methodist Church of Clearwater, 411 Turner St.

D. Guy McMullen, member of pioneer family, always ready with a quip and a smile 08/11/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 11, 2010 10:18pm]
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