Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

Death robs Citrus of several leaders

Among those who died this year are community activists, longtime politicians, pioneers and an animal lover.

Citrus County lost several prominent citizens during 2000.

J.P. Garner, 62, a former manager at the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park once described as Citrus County's answer to Dr. Doolittle, died April 29.

Christine R. Hollins, 87, a member of a Suncoast family of pioneers with roots in the development of Pinellas and Citrus counties, died May 5.

Mrs. Hollins was the widow of Maurice L. "Rip" Hollins, who at one time owned the 16,500-acre Hollinswood Ranch in Citrus.

By the mid 1990s, the family had reduced the Citrus spread to 1,200 acres, with large portions sold to the state for conservation.

Annie W. Johnson, 82, a retired Citrus County schoolteacher and community leader, died Aug. 20. Mrs. Johnson served charities such as Citrus United Basket and lived on W Test Court, not far from the senior services center that was named after her.

Guila Manchester, 81, founder of the Humanitarians of Florida, died June 9.

The Rev. Earl Samstag, 74, a retired United Methodist minister and former member of the Health and Human Services Board, which advised the Department of Children and Families, died Nov. 10.

Barbara Utsey, 64, a community activist who served with the Citrus Abuse Shelter Association, Pilot Club of Crystal River and Florida Low Income Housing, died Dec. 27.

William "Bill" Welch, 70, former leader of Citrus 20/20, died April 28.

Lovick P. Williams, 95, a lawyer who represented many of Citrus County's residents and government agencies, died June 14.

Mr. Williams was elected in 1937 to serve in the state House of Representatives.

Mr. Williams also was a prosecutor in this region for 10 years and worked as county attorney for more than 14 years. He also served as the Inverness city attorney for many years.

Millard Fillmore "Phil" Zellner, 71, a School Board member for 24 years, died June 7.

Zellner, a Citrus native, chose not to seek re-election in 1990, instead opting to move at a slower pace and give new people a chance to serve the educational community.