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Bob Trotter, developer and gator hunter, dies

Bob Trotter, a shrewd developer who transformed the swamplands of Homosassa into cozy subdivisions but never abandoned the simple Cracker lifestyle, died Wednesday (July 18, 2001). He was 82.

The cause was bladder cancer and a host of other ailments, including gallstones and a weak heart, said his daughter, Flora Northcut.

Mr. Trotter was best known for his real estate company, which he operated for decades off U.S. 19 in Homosassa Springs.

He helped develop several well-known subdivisions, among them Homosassa Retreats, Homosassa Hideaway and Spring Gardens.

"He did a lot to promote Homosassa," said a friend and real estate colleague, Ed Tolle of Crystal River. "Another landmark for Citrus County is gone."

Born into a poor Homosassa family, Norwood Basil Trotter left school after third grade to help support his family by hunting and fishing with his father, Joe.

He gave guided fishing trips and had a knack for gator and crocodile trapping.

Big Jake, a 14-foot-plus crocodile that was one of the most famous residents at Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, was caught by Mr. Trotter and his brother Jay in Lake Tarpon in 1957. Big Jake died in April 1998.

In the 1950s, Mr. Trotter wanted to improve his financial health and began dabbling in real estate.

"He'd buy a piece and sell a piece," said his wife, Mary Lee, 73. He obtained a license and, after a short apprenticeship with R.O. Jones, struck out on his own, opening Trotter Realty in 1958.

"He would hunt gators by night and sell real estate by day," Northcut joked.

Old age did not dampen Mr. Trotter's love of the outdoors and he continued to fish and hunt until only a few months ago. His wife was always at his side. "He was my best friend," she said, sobbing.

"He would give you the shirt off his back," Mrs. Trotter said. When Mr. Trotter had extra fish or oysters, he would give them to neighbors. He had a sprawling garden and would give away fruits and vegetables as well.

"My dad loved life and appreciated everything he had," Northcut said. In 1999, the Trotters moved to Crystal River, in a home on Lake Rousseau, to be closer to their daughter.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Trotter is survived by two sons, Charles, Homosassa Springs, and Edward, Panama City; two other daughters, Gloria Holmes, Chiefland, and Paula Lord, Homosassa Springs; two sisters, Peggy Hoopergarner, Homosassa Springs, and Trellis Ledbetter, Shreveport, La.; and many grandchildren.

Wilder-Fountains Funeral Home, Homosassa Springs, is handling arrangements.