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Belleview remembers Ernest “Butch” Jurgens

Ernest “Butch” Charles Jurgens, age 85, of Belleview, passed away on December 18, 2023 at home surrounded by his family. He was born on May 23, 1938 in Plainview, New York a son to the late Ernest Charles and Agnes (Liebold) Jurgens. In addition to his parents, he was also preceded in death by his wife Barbara.

Butch was well known throughout the community. He could always be found riding along in his golf cart or eating breakfast at Mary’s. He loved everything outdoors, especially hunting and fishing.

He was a watermelon and peanut farmer for many years, and enjoyed spending countless hours mowing or tending to his garden.

His greatest love was for his family.

He leaves behind to cherish his memories a daughter Hope Wilcox (Rick) and two sons Darren Jurgens (Koreen) and Guy Jurgens (Jodi), Sister in law Lois Johnson (Earl), Niece Denise Margerum, five grandchildren – Samantha, Laina, Leah, Bailie, and Jon William, and greatgrandchildren – Ava, Colton, Emma, Lila, Willow, William, Conner, Caleb, and Cooper. A memorial service was held on Saturday, December 30 at First Baptist Church of Belleview.

An article about Butch:

In 2014, the late Louise Deegan authored an article about the life and times of Butch Jurgens. The following story was featured inside the Voice of South Marion 2014 Founders Day Review:

Butch was born and raised in Plainview, Long Island, New York. He was the youngest of three sisters and one brother. His father raised scallions, rhubarb and radishes on the 10 acre farm and was known as the “Onion King” at the markets. The school system in New York would put out for bids for school buses. From 1944 to 1951 Mr. Jurgens had four school buses that he owned and operated for the school system.

Mr. Jurgens would come to Florida for three month out of the year to escape the cold and would stay in Orange Springs. They decided to move here permanently in 1953-54 school year when Butch was in the eighth grade. The older children stayed in New York.

His father contacted Ed Reeves to look for property. They found 120 acres on 110th St. Rd. when it was a dirt road between Belleview and Candler and purchased it for $50.00 per acre. They sold their 10 acres on Long Island for $4,000 per acre. There was a boom in real estate in New York at that time. Golden nematode had a strong foothold on farmland and was wiping out a large part of the area’s potato crop. As a result farm land was being sold for development.

Levittetown was started by Levitt & Sons a construction company who built low cost post WW II housing for returning veterans and eventually became a community with several thousand houses, schools, its own postal delivery, even phone service and streetlights.

When Butch started school here he was teased about his New York accent. That didn’t last long. He came from a town smaller than Belleview which was in a farming community. He went to school there in a two room school that had four grades per room. Belleview only had two grades per room. He fit in with the small town of Belleview. When he finished the eighth grade he had a choice of going to Ocala High School or Summerfield School. He chose Summerfield because it was a small school and he felt more comfortable there.

Butch graduated in 1957 from Lake Weir High School and purchased his first watermelon truck. He hauled melons for local farmers to the box cars in Belleview or local lots to sell to individual truckers.

Butch earned two cents per melon for hauling. He had four men working for him. Two would be on the ground pitching the melons to the two people in the truck. They would split one cent four ways for their work. Also when the melons were stacked in the box cars Charles Pennington, while in elementary school, would run to the railroad after school and stack melons in the box cars and put stickers on the top layer. He was small, strong and could get in small places and could stack more melons in a box car.

Butch met Barbara Faye Millican at Summerfield School and they got married April 18, 1958. They have two sons Darren and Guy and one daughter, Hope also five grandchildren and three great grandchildren. They are members of the First Baptist Church of Belleview.

Butch and his father-in-law planted 20 acres of watermelons which they worked on the weekends because Mr. Millican worked for the County Road Department during the week and Butch worked for Seminole Stores in Ocala.

Later he purchased a tractor and trailer and hauled rock for the overpasses in Daytona for I-95 and rock for Cape Kennedy. Later he purchased a Reefer and hauled oranges, concentrate and swinging meat out of state.

The 120 acres Mr. and Mrs. Jurgens purchased had been planted in watermelons the year before so Butch planted watermelons. In 1977 he had three greenhouses which he raised hydroponics tomatoes for about three years. The last 15 years of farming he planted peanuts. In between the hauling and farming Butch purchased the Colonial Gas Station in Belleview and ran it for many years.

When the City of Belleview found gas in their water system, Butch helped them out by letting them hook up to the well he used for his greenhouses. Later he deeded the city that piece of property.

During the summer Butch and Barbara Faye along with Greggie and Gracie McWhite and Roy and Lou Abshier would take their families and go camping at Silver Glenn Springs.

Around 1983 Butch and Greggie would purchase two hogs at the Youth Fair and have a cookout with family and friends at the pole barn on his property.

Friends would bring a covered dish and have an evening of fellowship and fun. Their son-in-law Rick and his wife Hope started having the cookout at their place. The annual cookout grew to about 200 people attending.

In 1980 Butch and Barbara Faye developed Green Meadows Subdivision, currently they are in the third and final phase with eleven lots left.

Butch and Peek Hames would take trips together and in 1983 they purchased a cabin in Franklin, N.C. Without their wives knowing and enjoyed it with their families for 30 years before selling it last year.

Around 2009 Butch purchased his last dump truck and hauled dirt to build the two bridges in Wildwood that went over the railroad and the intersection of Baseline Road and SR 464.

When Barbara Faye graduated high school she was employed by Florida National Bank of Ocala. She started in bookkeeping and worked her way to Personnel Officer. Around 1992-93 Florida National Bank was purchased by First Union National Bank. Barbara was promoted to Assistant Vice-President.

She retired in September of 1995 and went to work for Margie Wood Trucking in Belleview and retired the second time in 2011.

Now that they are retired Butch and Barbara Faye plan on doing some traveling and spending more time with their family. They are proud of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

1 Comment

  1. Sandra Slobodzian Drechsler on January 4, 2024 at 2:25 pm

    I met my Uncle Butch when I was 9. He and Aunt Barbara drove up together in his Ford red and white convertible and they were such fun. We called him The Blonde Elvis because of his hair style.
    Later Uncle Butch would haul watermelons up to us. It was such a treat.
    I have visited my family in Belleview and Ocala for 30 years and they were such memorable times for me and my family. Much love was there and still is.

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