Mr. John T. Cannon III, age 93, passed away on Saturday, November 14, 2020. He was born March 25, 1927, to Gladys Brown and John T. Cannon Jr. in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. He was raised in DeLand, FL, and graduated from DeLand High School. He attended the University of Florida for one year and became a lifelong Florida Gator fan, before transferring to and graduating from Stetson University (1949). He was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity. He later furthered his education at the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University, completing the program in 1964.
Mr. Cannon was predeceased by his parents and sister, Betty Cannon Powers. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Helen, and three daughters: Kimberly (Dale) Smitherman of Greensboro, NC, Allison White of Naples, FL, and Susan (Dale) Dreyer, of Lakeland. He leaves six grandchildren: Chris (Mary-Kate) Smitherman, Susan Smitherman, Joshua White, John White, Coryell Dreyer and Whitney Dreyer, and one great grandchild, Charlie Smitherman. A sister, Carolyn Litke, and six nephews also survive.
Upon graduation from Stetson, Mr. Cannon began a 40-year career with Barnett Bank, based in Jacksonville, FL. His career was briefly interrupted by service in the US Army during the Korean War, 1954-1956. He returned to Barnett Bank, becoming president of the newly formed San Jose Barnett Bank in south Jacksonville in 1965. In 1970, he was named president of Barnett Bank of Brevard County where he served 12 years before moving to Lakeland as president of Barnett Bank of Polk County. He retired from Barnett Bank in 1989, though he continued serving the banking industry for many years as a consultant visiting banks on behalf of the American Bankers Association.
Throughout his career, Mr. Cannon was active in professional organizations. He served the Florida Bankers Association as chair of the real estate lending committee, commercial lending committee, and educational foundation. In addition, he served on the boards of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Jacksonville and the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University.
Mr. Cannon devoted a lifetime of service to his church and community and was a well- known and highly respected leader during his career and retirement. Though involved in many wonderful organizations, he had a special passion for First United Methodist Church, Lakeland Rotary Club, and Lakeland Regional Health.
He was a member of First United Methodist Church of Lakeland and served at all levels over the years: usher, member of the church council and Board of Trustees, chairman of the finance committee, and church treasurer. He was also proud of his work on the Board of Directors of the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home, where he was chairman for five years, and as a trustee for the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Mr. Cannon was a member of the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Lakeland Class I, and he chaired Class III. He was the first recipient of the Chamber’s prestigious Jere Annis Award as the outstanding graduate of the program.
He belonged to the Lakeland Rotary Club, serving as president in 1988-89. He was a Paul Harris Fellow, recipient of the Four Way Test Award, and member of the Lakeland Rotary Club Hall of Fame.
Mr. Cannon was a past board member of the United Way of Central Florida. As campaign chair in 1987, he led UWCF to a 33% increase in giving, the highest in the country.
Over the years, he devoted significant time as a board member and chair of the following organizations: Salvation Army, Lakeland Regional Health, Lakeland Regional Health Foundation, Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine, and Polk Museum of Art. He also served as board member and treasurer of the Give Well Community Foundation and was a past commodore of the Lakeland Yacht and Country Club.
The family would like to thank the wonderful caregivers he had during his illness. Memorials can be made to Good Shepherd Hospice, 3470 Lakeland Hills Blvd, Lakeland, FL 33805 or First United Methodist Church, 72 Lake Morton Drive, Lakeland, FL 33801.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Heath Funeral Chapel. Due to Covid-19, a private family service will be held at First United Methodist Church of Lakeland. Mr. Cannon lived the philosophy of giving generously of one’s time, talents, and treasures. He will be deeply missed by his family and friends.
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