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Former city Commissioner Gordon Belcher, 80, dies

Published Sep. 16, 2005

Gordon F. Belcher, 80, linked to three pioneer Pinellas families _ the Taylors, McMullens and Belchers _ died Tuesday (July 23, 1996) at Morton Plant Hospital, Clearwater.

Though he suffered from emphysema, Mr. Belcher was active to the end. Last week he joined his family in Orlando to attend the wedding of granddaughter Amanda Climer Carter.

Mr. Belcher's son William Fletcher Belcher remembers growing up when his father was a Largo city commissioner from 1949 through 1957.

"That was back when you used to know everybody in Largo and everybody knew you. Largo was a small, friendly citrus town."

During his father's terms in office, Largo's first movie theater opened, Pinellas Central Bank opened as the first bank to operate in Largo since 1927, and its 1950 population of 1,547 more tripled to 5,000 by 1955.

William Fletcher Belcher remembers how his father "did not like urbanization, even though it was necessary. Back then, Largo refused property tax so revenue came only from cigarette taxes; they annexed areas with small businesses to get money. I remember back when commission meetings, held in a round wooden building in the middle of the park, would go on past midnight with yelling and screaming.

"There would be big fish fry rallies in the park, and candidates would all stand up and make speeches just like you see in the movies," William Fletcher Belcher said. "The police station was in a corner, 5-feet square, and on Halloween kids would pick up the building and sit it in the middle of East Bay Drive."

Mr. Belcher was the son of Lillian Taylor and William Fletcher Belcher, a Largo businessman and builder, the manager of Taylor Packing House and a former mayor. His mother was descended from the family of John Stansel Taylor, who came here in 1840 from Brooksville. A great uncle, John Stansel Taylor Jr., was known for leading the drive to separate Pinellas County from Hillsborough County. He went on to become the first chairman of the Pinellas County Commission, a state representative and the first state senator elected from Pinellas.

Mr. Belcher lived on Belcher Road, named after great-grandfather William Belcher, who moved to this area from Virginia in 1870. William Belcher married Kate McMullen, a daughter of James Paramore McMullen, one of the seven McMullen brothers who came to this area in the mid-1800s as homesteaders.

Mr. Belcher graduated in 1932 from Largo High School and attended the University of Florida for three years. During World War II, he was employed by Citrus Concentrate Co. in Dunedin and was responsible for buying the citrus to be made into juice for soldiers. He worked for Kilgore Groves before opening his own business, Belcher Manufacturing, a machine shop for industrial gears. He was also known for tooling replacement parts for music boxes.

He was a member of Music Box Society International and Largo Church of Christ.

Survivors include two sons, William Fletcher, St. Petersburg, Gordon Wells, Clearwater; a daughter, Leta Climer, Longwood; four grandchildren, Scott Climer, Longwood, Amanda Climer Carter, Fairfax, Va., and Jenny Badger and Amy Belcher, both of St. Petersburg; and a great-grandson, Mark Belcher, St. Petersburg.

Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Friday at Rhodes Funeral Directors, Belcher Road Chapel, Clearwater, with Bob F. Owen officiating.

Burial will follow at Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park.

_ Information from Times files was used in this obituary.