King Love, a most distinguished scientist join list of 200 Tallahassee history makers (2024)

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TheTLH 200: Gerald Ensley Memorial Bicentennial Projectis proud to announce the sixth installment of ourrolling list of 200people who laid the foundation for the growth of the civil society we find today in Tallahassee.

As the city commemorates the 200thanniversary of its founding, the Tallahassee Democrat and Real Talk 93.3 havecast a wide netto find artists, educators, civil rights leaders, politicians, athletes, builders, business titans and neighborhood icons who earned a place in the spotlight.

We need your help in identifying those individuals.

You can email your suggestions of candidates to be profiled and other suggestions And listen toGreg Tish’s morning show on Real Talk 93.3where we'll discuss the legacy of these history makers.

The only condition is that those featured below must be deceased. Ten names will be added twice a month, so be sure to check back for updates.

Without further ado here is the sixth edition of 10 people who helped make Tallahassee someplace special ...

Read the full list

Henry Ludlow Beadell (1875 - 1963)

The roots of Tall Timbers, the research station & land conservancy north of Tallahassee, were nourished by a passion for quail hunting.

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Henry Ludlow Beadel of Staten Island, New York, first came to Leon County in 1894 with his father to shoot quail, such as the bobwhite, the number one game bird of the South.

His uncle, Edward, had purchased a 2,200-acre quail hunting plantation known as Hickory Hill that sat on the north shore of Lake Iamonia. Henry would visit every winter and when Edward passed away in 1919, he inherited the property and built a home he named Tall Timbers.

Beadel then devoted much of his time to scientific wildlife research. And in 1926, he began experimenting with controlled burns to study fire's effect on wildlife and plants.

Six years later, he organized the Cooperative Quail Study Association, made up of 21 owners of quail lands in the Tallahassee-Thomasville-Albany area.

And in 1958, Beadel founded the Tall Timbers research station with a mission to study game birds, fire and plant ecology, wildlife, and land conservation among other things.

When Gov. Farris Bryan presented Beadel with a plague in 1961 to recognize his contributions to wildlife research, the Tallahassee Democrat observed Beadel possessed an “outstanding color motion film libraries on quail and wildlife in the Southeast.”

Today, the Tall Timbers research station holds 158,000 acres in conservation easem*nts.

James Cullen Lawrence (1932 - 2024)

James Cullen “J.C.” Lawrence grew up in the Allen subdivision, a neighborhood north of Florida A&M University. The family home was on Canal Street, now part of FAMU Way, where the Anita Favors Lake and Plaza is today.

Cherry Lawrence, a younger sister, said the Bronough Street bridge runs right through her childhood bedroom.

JC was known as “Cowboy” while growing up. He starred in basketball at FAMU High, earned a master’s degree in education at FAMU and when he returned after serving in the U.S. Army, he became a role model for the Allen neighborhood kids.

In 1959, James Cullen Lawrence was named the first Black supervisor over the City of Tallahassee playgrounds and parks. He was put in charge of two recreation centers and the Jake Gaither Golf Course as well.

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“It was huge for a Black man to be named manager of a golf course in Tallahassee. That kind of opportunity did not come easy for Black folks,” said Deloris Harpool, who was a teenager and neighbor at the time.

“His appointment was uplifting. It made us feel like we had a chance,” said Harpool.

Lawrence was an all-around volunteer. He initiated the first Black Pee Wee Football League of Tallahassee, coordinated the Jake Gaither Alumni Golf Association, and served as treasurer of the Tallahassee branch of the NAACP.

At the recreational centers, Harpool and Cherry said he “molded the maturity” of a younger generation.

Cherry said JC played the role of “a real big brother” for many. He modeled a standard of behavior that demonstrated respect for others. And he expected his young charges to follow his lead when it came to the rules governing playgrounds, rec centers, and golf courses.

“Although he knew us as kids (from Canal St.), he was pretty strict about that. At the dances we attended, skating activities, and basketball games held there, we were all well behaved. He was someone that we really did look up to and we obeyed,” said Cherry.

Delores said JC received the same level of respect given the principal at school.

In 2002, the previous Dade Street Recreation Center was renamed the Lawrence-Gregory Community Center to honor James C. Lawrence, retired Recreation Superintendent and Beulah Gregory, Supervisor of the Tallahassee Dade Street facility

William May Walker (1905 - 1974)

The Honorable W. May Walker was a Crawfordville native who practiced law in Tallahassee and became known as the hardest working judge in Florida.

Walker served as a county judge from 1932 to 1940 and then as a Circuit Court judge until his death in 1974.

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Tallahasseans of his era remember Judge Walker for ending Miami Sen. Lee Weisenborn’s efforts to move the state capital away from Tallahassee.

For three years, Weisenborn and allies filed challenges to a bond issue to raise the money to build a new state Capitol complex downtown.

After the plaintiffs lost an appeal to the Supreme Court in 1968, Walker issued an injunction against any further challenges, telling Weisenborn anymore lawsuits would be “for what purpose I do not know.”

Another famous case involved a1959 sexual assault of a FAMU student by four white defendants. At the conclusion of the trial, Judge Walker denied defense counsel’s motion for acquittal and sentenced all four defendants to life at the Florida State Prison in Raiford.

At his passing, former Leon County Judge Charles McClure recalled Walker had a talent to get to the crux of a case. McClure said “it seemed as if he could always come up with the right decision. It was second nature to him, and things would very logically fall into place.”

The 2nd Judicial Circuit Historical Society records Judge Walker as one of the most distinguished jurists ever to serve the state.

George Langford (1923 - 2019)

George Langford, founder of the Municipal Code Corporation, was the 1989 Florida Entrepreneur of the Year. The visionary publisher is also remembered as the father of the Seminole Boosters.

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Langford was a World War II veteran and University of Virginia Law graduate. He came to Tallahassee in 1951 with an idea: Codify the regulations of cities and towns, and publish them in books that are called the city codes.

Having all a city’s ordinances at one’s fingertips in a book turned out to be a hugely successful idea. Langford’s Municipal Code Corporation became a multi-million-dollar enterprise with a 40,000-square-foot printing press near the airport.

Then in the mid-1970s a financial crisis threatened the Florida State University football team. The athletic department was $600,000 in debt and school president Stanley Marshall said if money was not found cuts would be made.

A call was placed to Langford for help. All people can recall is he was “recruited.” In any event, he is credited with resurrecting the Seminole Boosters, which wiped out the debt.

He would lead the Boosters for three years – a defining moment for FSU athletics that included the hiring of Bobby Bowden as the head football coach.

“The decision to recruit George Langford ... was one of the most important events that has occurred in our 64-year history,” said then Seminole Boosters President Andy Miller when Langford passed.

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Langford held a permanent seat on the FSU Foundation Board of Trustees, chaired FSU’s first Capital Campaign, was a founder of Springtime Tallahassee, and involved in dozens of civic organizations.

He raised money for MaClay School, Tall Timbers, the Monticello Opera House, Springtime Tallahassee, The Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, the United Way, St. John’s Episcopal Church and St. Peter’s Anglican Church.

The George and Marian Langford $1 million endowment to FSU’s Department of Classics came about after Langford asked then-president Sandy D'Alemberte which department never had received a financial gift.

Langford was recognized for his unwavering commitment and dedication to FSU in 2000 when the Boosters named a grassy area outside Doak Campbell Stadiumwhere fans and vendors gather The Langford Green.

Nic Gavalas (1922 - 2014)

Twenty-eight-year-old Nicholas George Gavalas arrived in Tallahassee after World War II and became a founding member of several civic-minded organizations and created the iconic Florida tie.

The son of a master tailor, Gavalas and his wife Janet opened Nic’s Toggery downtown at Monroe Street and Pensacola Street.

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The store catered to college students and turned into a college hangout. Nic was warm and engaging with customers. He carried the latest fashions. The store quickly joined the ranks of Esquire Magazine’s Top 100 Men’s Store in the United States.

“It was a gathering spot," former FSU football player Ron Schomburger, told Tallahassee Democrat’s Gerald Ensley when Gavalas died.

“We’d go in to look at the clothes but have a good conversation with him and his employees. It was like talking to an old friend,” said Schomburger, about Nic.

“To my generation, Nic was a legend,” said ESPN broadcaster Lee Corso, a former Seminole quarterback. “He was like a father figure to me.”

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A founding member of Seminole Boosters, Nic designed a Sammy Seminole tie to promote Florida State University athletics.

But it was his Florida tie that features an outline of the state that became ubiquitous, especially when the Legislature was in town. Former U.S. Senator and Gov. Bob Graham claimed to have worn one for more than 20 years.

Nic Gavalas’ legacy continues with Nic’s Toggery, the Official Clothier of the Florida State Seminoles, and with two stores, one downtown and a second one in north Tallahassee.

Wilmoth H. and Kathleen Baker (1928 - 2006 and 1929 - 2007)

When Wilmoth and Kathleen Baker opened Baker’s Pharmacy in 1958 only one other pharmacy in town would hire a Black pharmacist and there were only certain stores where Black people could shop.

Kathleen had a pharmacy degree from Xavier University, and she convinced her husband Wilmoth to pursue one at Florida A&M University where she taught.

The couple then decide to open a pharmacy in a duplex where Wilmoth’s father had a practice. Sort of a one-stop medical facility for a segregated community.

Money was tight. When the couple opened their store in August 1958 on South Adams Street, the shelves were stocked with only one of each item – because that was all the Bakers could afford.

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Wilmoth and Kathleen worked 12-hours a day, seven-days a week to make the pharmacy what former FAMU interim-President Henry Lewis III would call a “beacon of light for this community.”

It was eclectic. The Bakers sold medicine and almost everything else –from sewing thread to birthday and Christmas gifts.

The counter at their soda fountain drew college students, professionals, the elderly and unemployed. There they swapped news, traded gossip, and sold tickets to social events.

Baker’s Pharmacy was also the internship training ground for nearly 200 FAMU pharmacy students, including Lewis,who would go on to become a Leon County Commissioner, Dean of the College of Pharmacy and a FAMU interim president.

The pharmacy closed in 2002. Here is an excerpt from a letter to the editor Lewis sent to the Tallahassee Democrat at the time.

“Baker’s Pharmacy was a safe and clean place to take your girlfriend. It was a place where health care was a fundamental right, regardless of your ability to pay. Wilmoth and Kathleen Baker were mother and father away from home for hundreds of FAMU students in their quest for a college degree. The Bakers were a shining example of how a married couple should be and how to raise a family.”

Paul Dirac (1902 - 1984)

Paul Dirac may be the most distinguished Tallahassean ever.

The 1975 Compton Encyclopedia Yearbook declared him an equal to Sir Isacc Newton and Albert Einstein.

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Einstein once said about a Dirac paper, “this balancing on the dizzying path between genius and madness is awful.”

Dirac won the 1933 Nobel Prize in physics for his Relativistic Wave Equation.He anticipated the string theory in 1962 with the Dirac-Born-Infeld action and the Dirac membrane.

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking said Dirac “changed our picture of the universe.”

It was a twist of fate, and lakes, that made him a Tallahasseean.

Dirac held the Lucasian Chair in Mathematics at Cambridge University in England – Newton was the first to hold the chair. As Dirac was approaching the mandatory retirement age of 70, FSU offered him a visiting professorship.

It was 1969. He liked the place. Became a familiar face at seafood restaurants. Would walk to work. Was often spotted swimming at Silver Lake and Lost Lake.

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Dirac didn’t want to retire so he said goodbye Cambridge, hello Florida. He joined the FSU faculty full time in 1971.

“FSU has a good physics department,” said Dirac when asked why he was here.

“Here I escape the harsh winters of the North. I like swimming in the lakes, rivers, sinkholes and the sea. There are lots of swimming opportunities around Tallahassee. To some extent that is what brought me here.”

Dirac received many honors, including the Royal Medal, the Copley Medal, the Max Planck Medal and the inaugural J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize. He once turned down a knighthood because he did not want to be addressed by his first name but later consented and became a member of the Order of Merit in 1973.

Paul Dirac passed away in Tallahassee and was buried at Roselawn Cemetery. His papers are held at the Paul A.M. Dirac Science Library at Florida State University. The street in Innovation Park where the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory is located is named Paul Dirac Drive in his honor.

Evelyn Kimsey Csikos (1907 - 1977)

Evelyn Kimsey Csikos is the mother of Vo-Tech education in Leon County.

When she was named principal of the Lively Continuation School in 1935, the Vienna, Ga., native was one of just two female vocational school directors in the country.

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Csikos would travel throughout Florida to construct a bureaucratic infrastructure for vocational education and became a stalwart lobbyist for job training in the Legislature.

Csikos was born in 1907 and moved to Tallahassee eight years later. She graduated from Leon High School in 1926.

She was one of two teachers hired by Lewis M. Lively in 1931, one of two for 52 students at his school who trained office skills to students not college bound. She taught shorthand and typing.

Evelyn also worked as a stenographer for the Legislature. When she was named director of what would become Lively, World War II was on the horizon and she would change the focus of vocational education.

North Florida became a hub of activity for wartime preparation. Aircraft mechanics would join shorthand and accounting in the Lively curriculum, along withthe operation of new technology like mimeographing.

Csikos embraced the change and wangled millions of dollars from the federal and state governments to fund vocational and technical education for students not bound for college but wanting skills to earn a living.

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Upon her retirement in 1973, Csikos predicted the future of vocational education would be in middle and high schools because she said many college graduates “are learning a college diploma alone won’t get them a job.”

In retirement, Csikos developed the curriculum for the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Program.

Csikos died at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital while recovering from a heart attack in 1977.

Rear Admiral David Betton Macomb (1827 - 1911)

David Macomb was the youngest son of David Macomb Sr., and Mary Tiffin Worthington. Mary’s father was the governor of Ohio, and her family opposed the marriage.

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The couple moved to Tallahassee in 1824. They settled along Lake Iamonia, and had five children, David B. the youngest.

The senior Macomb gained notoriety for a duel with Prince Murat, shooting off Murat’s little finger. He then moved the family to Texas. Tuberculosis claimed Mary and the senior Macomb ended his life by slashing his throat a few months later.

At age 9, David and his siblings were left orphaned, and raised by familyin Ohio.

When he was 22, David was appointed a third assistant engineer in the U.S. Navy and explored the North Pacific and the Sea of Japan. When the Civil War broke out, Macomb would be aboardone of the first Union vessels to enter the conflict, and at war’s end he was on the ship that fired the final shots.

He also distinguished himself as an inventor.

Macomb was the chief engineer of the USS Niagara in April 1861 when it became the first U.S. Navy ship to form up the blockade of Charleston. Niagara would later participate in the bombardment of the Pensacola Naval Yard.

He returned to Charleston in 1865 aboard the USS Canonicus, which fired the final shot as the rebels retreated to Sullivan’s Island as the South surrendered.

The Canonicus was then sent in pursuit of a Confederate ironclad, the chase took the Canonicus to Havana where she became the first American ironclad to enter a foreign port.

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Among the inventions Macomb contributed to the U.S. Navy were a hydraulic lift used aboard ironclads, and he made and installed the first fresh-water maker used on a U.S. Navy vessel.

Macomb retired February 27, 1889, with the rank of commodore. He was later promoted to rear admiral.

A street in the Frenchtown neighborhood, and the destroyer the USS Macomb – known as the Mighty Mac by its crew – are named in honor of Rear Admiral Macomb.

Dr. Kamal Abdou Yousef, aka King Love (1936 - 1999)

King Love was someone no one understood but everyone talked about.He reigned in Tallahassee for six years.

King Love was the creation of Kamal Abdou Youssef. A child prodigy pianist who played for the King of Egypt at the Cairo Opera House in 1949, Yousef graduated from medical school in 1956, moved to New York City in 1969, and then West Palm in 1977.

Youssef, a pathologist, established a successful practice.

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People say Youssef changed when the first Gulf War started in 1991. He became involved with an anti-war group, was diagnosed with manic depression and then became estranged from his family.

That’s when King Love came to be, a man with a white beard, a golden crown and a red cape holding a megaphone, and waving signs at intersections around town.

One would find the King at the corner of Tennessee and Monroe streets during the morning commute and at Apalachee Parkway and Magnolia Street in the afternoon. An electronic megaphone amplified shouts of “Yip, Yip, Yip," as he skipped through the crosswalk with signs that promoted love, denounced God, and one adorned with photos of JFK and Princess Diana that encouraged people to “Return to Camelot.”

“I think it was the Gulf War that pushed him over the edge. Before that, he was a normal, very loving person,” his son Anwar told a Tallahassee Democrat reporter who tracked down the family after Yousef’s passing.

“It was like his heart was being torn out. We lost all contact with him after the Gulf War,” said Anwar. “It was all quite sudden.”

King Love arrived in Tallahassee around 1993 and endeared himself to Tallahasseeans.

Tallahassee Police arrested him several times on petty theft, trespassing and disorderly conduct charges. Two college students who took him in briefly said Yousef was knowledgeable, a good conversationalist, but could become agitated and erratic.

Yousef’s Florida arrest record dates to 1991. A FDLE report listed eight different spellings of his given name and listed his occupation simply as “King.”

He used his monthly social security checks to publish “love declarations.” They were a mix of brotherhood tinged with paranoia.

“I realize that people have been cheated of real paradise on Earth,” the King told break magazine in 1995. “They have been cheated of their innocence, falsely convicted as sinners and their wages of sin is hell and everlasting fire and wailing and gnashing of teeth. For some, hell is here and now.”

When his health began to decline and in his final year, Youseff gave up the King Love persona.

He shaved his beard, stopped wearing crowns and robes, and quit ranting about politicians. Kamal Abdu Yousef began attending Baptist Celebration Church, which invited an Egyptian priest when it held services for Yousef after he died alone in his apartment.

“I wish to thank the people of Tallahassee from the depth of my heart.People here tolerated him and didn’t harm him. In other societies they would have clobbered him to death. I know it," said his brother Nagaui A. Michael, a retired New York City attorney, before the service.

“If I could say one thing to him right now it would be I’m sorry. Because I did not believe in him. Fortunately, the people of Tallahassee did.”

This list is part ofTLH 200: the Gerald Ensley Bicentennial Memorial Project. Throughout our city's 200th birthday, we'll be drawing on the Tallahassee Democrat columnist and historian's research as we re-examine Tallahassee history. Read more

King Love, a most distinguished scientist join list of 200 Tallahassee history makers (2024)
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