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Tue 12 December 2017
FEATURE ARTICLES
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PEOPLE: WILLIAM KNOX MCRAE
William Knox McRaeWilliam Knox McRae was born in Lakeland, Florida on February 6, 1902, the seventh child of Wesley Kinnis and Henrietta Timmons McRae. He attended elementary and high schools in Lakeland, Florida and then attended Florida Southern College in Lakeland for two years. Following many small jobs during the Great Depression of the 1930's, Knox, as he was called by family and friends, was employed by the Tennessee Highway Department during infrastructure buildup for construction of the Tennessee Valley dams as part of President Franklin Roosevelt's TVA project. He then became employed by the Florida State Road Department (now Florida Department of Transportation). During WW II he was loaned to the US Navy for the construction of several airfields in central and north Florida. He was civilian Public Works Officer for the Naval Air Station in DeLand, Florida during the latter part of the war.
 
Following the war, he joined a private contractor as construction supervisor for a year before returning to the Florida State Road Department (SRD) where he was a project engineer. One of his first assignments was the inspection of all bridges in the SRD's Fifth Division consisting of a triangular area in the central part of the state extending along the Atlantic coast from St. Augustine to below Melbourne and across the state to the Gulf Coast in the area of Inverness. This included the assessment of wear and tear during the war when maintenance was minimal as well as assessing hurricane damage to the bridge and causeway serving Cape Canaveral and Patrick Air Force Base. He was involved with the location and construction of many highways in the division in the ensuing years.

On the advent of the missile buildup at Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic Coast, site of the Kennedy Space Center, Knox was loaned by the state to the county of Brevard to aid in providing the necessary roads, drainage and maintenance of facilities to support the tremendous buildup of the area, particularly in the towns of Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, and Titusville. He designed and built county roads and drainage facilities to allow developers to build new subdivisions. Each time one area was built-out, he would step westward a half mile with another county road and drainage system to provide more land for development. This continued throughout the missile buildup. Maintaining the roads and highways under the heavy usage was another activity in which Knox was engaged.
 
When State officials discovered in 1967 that Knox was past the mandatory retirement age, he was forced to retire. Despite strong pressure from Brevard County Commissioners and their elected representatives in Tallahassee, the retirement was mandatory. In appreciation for the years of dedicated service to Brevard County, the Commissioners presented Knox with the following resolution.


WHEREAS, MR. W. KNOX MCRAE, has served with Brevard County for almost ten years, and-

WHEREAS, he is now retiring from the State Road Department after thirty-two years of outstanding service, and-

WHEREAS, it has been under his direction, that Brevard County has been able to move forward with a paving program of its own, thereby saving the County and its taxpayers untold dollars, and-

WHEREAS, his pleasant personality, and untiring dedication to his work has provided us all with an example of public service at its best -

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Board of County Commissioners of Brevard County, Florida, that MR. W. KNOX MCRAE be, and is hereby commended, and given the heart-felt thanks of this Board and its employees.
 
DONE, ORDERED, AND ADOPTED, in Regular Session, this 14th day of December, A. D.1967.
(signed) LEE WENNER, CHAIRMAN BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA ATTEST:
(signed) CURTIS R. BARNES, CLERK (SEAL OF Brevard County Commissioners)



William Knox McRaeIn addition to the above resolution, the Commissioners named a major thoroughfare "Knox McRae Drive" that connects US Route 1 in Titusville, Florida to Interstate 95 currently. They also presented Knox with actual signage mounted on a shortened pole with a base designating the intersection of Knox McRae Drive with US Route 1. Both of these actions pleased Mr. McRae greatly and he treasured the sign throughout his life.

"He taught us a lot and had a real fine manner about him," former commissioner Gus Faulk, who presented the awards, praised.
 
McRae was pleased by the reunion with Faulk and with the county commission's action. "That sign, I've got it on my front porch," he said proudly. "And the resolution - that was really nice and well worded."
 
He passed away in Tallahassee, Florida on October 5, 1986 and was interred in DeLand Memorial Gardens on Beresford Road in DeLand, Florida near the State Highway Division office, from which he served so many years.

Obituaries were printed in newspapers in Brevard County, DeLand, Orlando and Tallahasee.

William Davis McRae
son of William Knox McRae

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