Former Mayor Carl Dicks Dies at 90

Carl Dicks
Carl Dicks (1992)

Former Lakeland Mayor and longtime City Commissioner Carl Dicks died Wednesday at his home. He was 90 years old.  He is believed to have been among the longest serving city commissioners, serving 24 years from 1972 to 1996. 

For 27 years, Dicks owned a South Florida Avenue hardware store, which he had established shortly after his discharge from the U.S.  Army in 1947.

A high school sports star at Plant City High School, he was a noted fisherman and golfer through his years on the commission, often kidded about his frequency in playing at and attention to the city-owned golf course.

The clubhouse at the Cleveland Heights Golf Course was named in Dicks’ honor in 2003. Dicks was proud that he was part of the commission in 1976 when it expanded the course from 18 to 27 holes.

Dicks was mayor in 1975 in the days when that position rotated among city commissioners.

Larry Durrence, who served on the commission with Dicks for eight years, said he believed that the most significant accomplishments of his fellow commissioner was that he was a fiscal conservative wanting to hold the line on expenses, but was insistent on keeping the city’s utilities, especially the city-owned electric division, in top service.

Dicks also was a strong supporter of parks and recreation and in improving the Cleveland Heights golf course, Durrence said.

“Until the 1980s and an increase in private courses, he worked to see that the city course was affordable for local golfers and that the other facilities were there for many civic clubs which had their meetings there,” Durrence said.

“Carl never got personal and kept the meetings collegial,” Durrence said. “We would, of course, disagree on issues, but when we would leave the meetings, we left together.”

Former Mayor Frank O’Reilly said despite difference on issues, Dicks’ experience and judgment helped keep the commission harmonious.

“I loved Carl Dicks. We went to the city manager to urge increased recreation for the city. With Carl’s help we have the best parks around. He would say that money from the lease of the hospital (Lakeland Regional Medical Center) must be used for recreation for the city’s residents and especially the kids,” O’Reilly said.

Born in Plant City on  April 15, 1927, he was the son of James Raymond Dicks and Lucille Streyer Dicks.

Carl Dicks and his wife, Betty, were married for almost  69 years. In addition to Betty, he is survived by four daughters, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

A date for a memorial service has not been set yet.