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Donald Beggs Sr. of Don's Dock dies

The 90-year-old Madeira Beach resident built a favorite stockup locale for boaters and fishermen and Ardon Apartments, his home.

© St. Petersburg Times
published August 18, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- Donald Beggs Sr., who built Don's Dock in Madeira Beach, a popular spot for boaters and fishermen to load up with bait and fuel, has died at 90.

He died Friday (Aug. 16, 2002) at his Madeira Beach home in Ardon Apartments, which he also built, across the street from the dock.

As a teenager living in St. Petersburg, Mr. Beggs often visited the beach with friends and declared that one day he would live there, his daughter, Kathy Lister, said.

In 1942, Mr. Beggs, a resourceful and enterprising young man, borrowed $3,000 from his grandmother to buy a stretch of sand covered by palmetto and cypress on the north side of John's Pass. He began piecing together his new home, Ardon Apartments. The roofs of the beach cottages were made from aluminum culled from demolished barracks at MacDill Air Force Base.

He and his wife, Ardis, lived in a home on Dartmouth Avenue for three years until the apartments were completed in 1945.

At first, the dock was for Mr. Beggs' private use, but he soon saw an opportunity. He started the business by renting rowboats and later added bait, gas and other supplies.

Mr. Beggs and his son, Donald Jr., ran the business until 1979, when they leased it out. They sold it in 1986, but the new owner leased it back to the family. Mr. Beggs' grandson, Donald "Luke" Beggs III, now runs the dock.

Mr. Beggs came here in 1942 from his native Confluence, Pa. He served on the Madeira Beach City Commission in the 1950s and helped build Church by the Sea. He also ran Redington Long Pier for 10 years and Madeira Beach Marina.

In addition to his daughter and son, survivors include two daughters, Martha C. Galloway, Odessa, Texas, and Elizabeth Ann Keikes, Saphire, N.C.; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Donations are suggested to Hospice of the Florida Suncoast.

E. James Reese Funeral Home in Seminole is in charge.

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