New book lists Florida’s most-in­flu­en­tial peo­ple

Palm Beach Daily News - - BUSINESS - By MATT MOR­GAN

Some of the most in­flu­en­tial peo­ple in the his­tory of Florida in­clude house­hold names such as Henry Fla­gler, Walt Dis­ney and ... Fidel Cas­tro?

Ac­cord­ing to a new book from former U.S. Sen. Ge­orge LeMieux and co-author Laura Mize, the late Cuban dic­ta­tor’s un­likely role in mold­ing the Sun­shine State had to do with his au­thor­i­tar­ian regime, which was so bad it pre­cip­i­tated the in­flux of Cuban res­i­dents that re­made Mi­ami. It was a “sleepy, South­ern town” be­fore Cubans and other His­pan­ics started flood­ing in and chang­ing the city into to­day’s bustling in­ter­na­tional me­trop­o­lis.

“Some of the most tal­ented, suc­cess­ful peo­ple of Latin Amer­ica re­set­tled in Mi­ami,” LeMieux said.

The book Florida Made: The 25 Most Im­por­tant Fig­ures Who Shaped the State was re­cently pub­lished and in­cludes pro­files of other in­flu­en­tial peo­ple such as:

Ger­man rocket sci­en­tist Kurt De­bus, who moved the Na­tional Aero­nau­tics and Space Ad­min­is­tra­tion head­quar­ters to Cape Canaveral.

In­ven­tor John Gor­rie, who is con­sid­ered the fa­ther of the mod­ern air con­di­tion­ing unit, which al­lowed peo­ple to stave off the sum­mer heat.

Hamil­ton Dis­ston, who bought a chunk of Florida land big­ger than the state of Con­necti­cut, spurring eco­nomic growth and caus­ing Fla­gler to ex­tend his rail­way all the way down the state.

Allen Eyestone / Daily News file photo

Cour­tesy of the Walt Dis­ney Ar­chives © Dis­ney

The im­pact that Walt Dis­ney had on Cen­tral Florida and tourism in the state with the de­vel­op­ment of Dis­ney World out­side of Or­lando de­fies mea­sure­ment.

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