Civic Leader Lester Wishnatzki To Receive Honorary Degree from FSC
LAKELAND, Fla. (Dec. 9, 2009) — Florida Southern College will confer an honorary degree upon Lester Wishnatzki during the College's winter commencement ceremony. Mr. Wishnatzki, a Lakeland philanthropist and national leader in the strawberry business, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. Commencement begins at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 19 in Branscomb Auditorium.
Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Wishnatzki moved to Lakeland in 1938 to join his father in the family business. As president of Wishnatzki Farms, he was among the first to use mechanical refrigeration in packinghouses and trucking and was instrumental in creating a market for strawberries in the Northeast. Known as the "Strawberry King," Mr. Wishnatzki is credited with making Plant City the "Winter Strawberry Capital of the World." In 2004, he was inducted into the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame.
Mr. Wishnatzki and his late wife, Selma, selflessly contributed their time and resources to a number of local organizations, especially those that support education, the arts, and health care. Over the years, their generosity has benefited the Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine Clinic, Lakeland Regional Cancer Center, All Saints' Academy, Temple Emmanuel, Central Florida Speech and Hearing, Imperial Symphony Orchestra, Peace River Center, VISTE, the Polk Theatre, Lakeland Regional Medical Center (LRMC) Foundation, Florida Southern College, and many others. In 2007, Mr. and Mrs. Wishnatzki were named the Philanthropists of the Year by LRMC.