Florida Citrus Innovator Passes Away at 90

Orie Lee, 2015 Citrus Achievement Award winnerWhen it comes to possessing a life-long passion for citrus production and science, Orie Lee set the bar. The longtime Florida grower and contributor to citrus plant breeding research, recently passed away at his home in St. Cloud. He was 90.


His inquisitive nature and dedication was instrumental in bringing the industry several of its most important varieties and rootstocks, including ‘Midsweet,’ ‘Vernia,’ and ‘Earlygold.’

Lee remained actively involved in discussions of new varieties and rootstocks being developed by researchers in his cooperative groves. Today, there is a line named in his honor — OLL (Orie Lee Late). The original tree was an extra from an old irradiation experiment by USDA in an effort to get a seedless pineapple orange.

Over the years, Lee was recognized for his tireless, trailblazing efforts in the citrus industry. He was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame in 2005 and won the Florida GrowerSM Citrus Achievement Award in 2015.

Lee is survived by Louise H. Lee, his wife of 68 years, as well as his son James Lee, daughter Laura Lee Hill, grandson Matthew Lee, and great-grandson Maxwell Lee.

To view the entire obituary and contribute to the online tribute wall, visit http://www.fiskfh.com/obituaries/Orie-Lee.

Feel free to leave your memories about Orie in the reader comment section.

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Avatar for Lawrence Marais Lawrence Marais says:

I met Orie Lee during the 1980s while on sabbatical from South Africa where I was employed by Capespan International (now CRI) as a citrus research pathologist. Dr Bill Castle of CREC took me out to meet Orie Lee and view some of current trials being conducted. Orie Lee was a researcher’s dream come true, as he was always willing to cooperate in field trials and his expansive knowledge on citriculture and citrus diseases was extraordinary. He was not only the perfect cooperator but
his expert knowledge was invaluable when planning field trials.
I would like to express my deepest sympathy to his family and pray that God’s comfort, strength and peace will be their portion during the days, weeks, months and years to follow.