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Ex-governor faced down disaster

Elected in 1929, Doyle Carlton dealt with the real estate bust, a fruit fly scourge, a hurricane and the Depression.

By MICHAEL CANNING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 8, 2002

Not even a lot of downtown workers know where Doyle Carlton Drive is.

It's tucked away, coursing along the Hillsborough River behind the Tampa Museum of Art and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

But that happens to be in the middle of downtown's recently-dubbed cultural arts district. Soon the road could become a prestige address in light of proposed plans for a new museum complex, an expanded Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center and a 25-story condo tower.

Carlton lived to see none of those things, even though he was Florida's oldest former governor. A native of Wauchula, he arrived in Tampa in 1912 to practice law. He represented Hillsborough and Pinellas counties in the state Senate and was Tampa's city attorney.

In 1929 he was elected governor of Florida, the youngest ever at age 41. His term was complicated by an unlikely confluence of disasters: the collapse of the Florida real estate boom, a Mediterranean fruit fly scourge, a destructive hurricane and the Great Depression.

He returned to his Tampa law practice after his gubernatorial term. In 1936 he ran for U.S. Senate but was upset in the primary by Charles Andrews. As special attorney for the state, he was involved in a 1947 settlement that brought Sarasota's Ringling Museum and residence under state ownership.

He was also appointed by President Eisenhower to fill a vacancy on the Civil Rights Commission in 1957 and was president of Tampa's Pan American Commission for 13 years. He died in 1972 at 85.

-- Source: Tampa Bay History Center.

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