The death of longtime grocer Felton Williams left the community mourning a man known for his faith, generosity and compassion.
Williams, 87, who died Thursday, was a World War II veteran who opened his first store in 1955. His Felton's Meat and Produce has become a popular destination for an eclectic stock ranging from gator meat to pork bellies to more traditional supermarket fare.
"We lost an icon of Plant City," said Marion Smith, president of the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce.
Williams was known for helping churches and the needy. In 2006, he was named Plant City's Citizen of the Year.
"He was a very kind-hearted individual," said Mayor Mike Sparkman, who knew him for years. Sparkman, who is retired from the oil business, said he used to lease property from Williams for a gas station and was always impressed with his business ethics and his willingness to extend a helping hand, including credit to the poor.
Edith Langston, pastor of Mets Gospel Ministries, said he would help her small church by selling her groceries at a discount. He also sponsored a float in the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. parade that featured a singing trio from her church.
"I think everybody loved him. He did so much for so many people," Langston said.
In recent years, Williams had been in declining health and he turned the day-to-day operation of the store at 617 N. Maryland Ave. over to other family members, including son Lee, and daughter Karen Davis.
Hopewell Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Besides Lee Williams and Karen Davis, survivors include his wife, Lucille; son Jeff; sisters Dorothy Andreu and Geraldine "Dinky" Cribbs; brother Leo; and two grandchildren.