The sprawling Carrollwood subdivision that replaced acres upon acres of orange groves and pastures more than a half-century ago was the brainchild of Matt Jetton, a developer and planner who also served on the Hillsborough County Commission in the 1980s.
Jetton, long considered the father of Carrollwood, which now stretches from the Tampa city limits into Lutz, died Friday after complications of surgery, said his daughter, Melissa Jetton-Price.
He was 88 and had fallen Wednesday, breaking his hip. He was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital-North on VanDyke Road where he underwent surgery, but succumbed to the injury on Friday afternoon, she said.
“There were so many things he did,” Jetton-Price said Sunday morning in recalling her father’s life.
He lived in Carrollwood Village since 1992, but before that, the family lived on Fletcher Avenue, where he bred racehorses.
“I couldn’t be more proud of everything he did and the reputation he had,” Jetton-Price said. “I never heard anybody say anything bad about him.”
He and her mother, Mary M. Jetton, who died in March 2012, were married 60 years and had two children, including a son, Mark M. Jetton.
Matt Jetton was president of SunState Builders and became the first Hillsborough County Planning Commission chairman in 1959. He served as a county commissioner in the early 1980s.
In 1957, Al Austin, Matt Jetton, and Mandell and James Shimberg purchased the Webb Dairy Farm, 600 acres of land northwest of Tampa and Town ’N Country was born. The same year, Jetton purchased 200 acres of orange groves and unveiled the original plans for Carrollwood, named for Lake Carroll, which was the centerpiece of the community. His plans included 1,300 new houses off Dale Mabry.
It was a time when Tampa’s population – and economy – ballooned.
“If you say you’re going to control growth, at some point, you’d have to say newcomers can't live here. I don't believe that,” said Jetton, in a 2001 interview with The Tampa Tribune. “Basically, a lot of things must have been done right or the people wouldn't be here.”
Growing up in South Tampa, which was being built out in the 1950s, Jetton focused on the sprawling land to the north to house Tampa’s growing population
In December 1959 – before New Tampa and Brandon – Jetton started developing Carrollwood, which at the time was the first master-planned subdivision of its size in Florida and one of the first in the country.
New homes in the subdivision started at $16,000 and reached as high as $80,000.
Carrollwood won national acclaim, winning the Subdivision of the Year award in 1961 from the National Association of Home Builders. In 1962, Parents magazine recognized Carrollwood as the development with the best homes for families with children.
Jetton was inducted into the Florida Home Builders Association’s Hall of Fame in 1997.
A visitation is scheduled from noon until 2 p.m. Monday with a service to follow at Lake Magdalene United Methodist Church, 2902 W. Fletcher Ave. A private interment will follow at Myrtle Hill Memorial Park.