Homosassa loses special pioneer

A lifelong resident of the community, Duncan MacRae Sr. was a business owner, a fisherman and a beloved father.

Published September 30, 2006

HOMOSASSA - This small fishing village isn't incorporated, so there is no mayor or city council president or town clerk. But Homosassa has its leaders all the same, and Duncan MacRae Sr. was one of them.

A lifelong resident, Mr. MacRae was a business owner, a fisherman, a father and a friend.

"He wasn't a large stature type of man, but he was the biggest man I've known in my life," said one of his sons, Rodney.

Mr. MacRae died Friday (Sept. 29, 2006) after a long illness. He was 84. He would have turned 85 on Tuesday.

Mr. MacRae's business roots stretch back to the 1940s. His father, J.A., owned J.A. MacRae Mercantile, a general store at Boulevard Drive and Cherokee Way.

Duncan MacRae Sr. took over that store in 1947. As Rodney tells the story, a traveling salesman from the Tampa area brought Mr. MacRae a bait and tackle setup to put on display.

Sales were so good that Mr. MacRae decided to transition out of the general store business. In 1953 he opened MacRae's Bait House, which still stands today.

Another son, Gator, now owns the business. Its name is MacRae's of Homosassa and is a bait and tackle shop, a tiki bar, a snack bar and a gathering place.

Through the decades, the family also has rented out motel rooms and efficiency cottages. And it has owned the nearby Homosassa Inn, which also was home to several popular restaurants including the Dry Dock, which served its last meal in January 1989; and the Crab Trap, which closed in summer 1992.

The inn is now a private residence for the MacRae family.

In 1992, the Homosassa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce gave Mr. MacRae a special "pioneer" award.

Arrangements were still pending Friday afternoon. Survivors include Mr. MacRae's wife, Wilma; sons Rodney and Gator; and daughter Kathy (Frank) Foulk. He was preceded in death by two sons, Duncan Jr. and James Michael.

"He taught me the difference between right and wrong, taught me how to fish, how to hunt, how to be kind to others and mindful of others' opinions," Rodney MacRae said Friday.

"He was truly a great teacher and a great friend and I'm going to miss him immensely. He was my buddy."