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Fletcher Family

History, Business Development & Family

by Trish Utter

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The Fletcher family name has become a household name in the Gainesville area for their land development and real estate projects. They are also well known around the State of Florida for their philanthropy. The Fletchers have a passion for development and building – taking raw land and transforming it into beautiful subdivisions. Gainesville locals are familiar with Fletcher’s Mill which is located on Newberry Road, west of I-75. The location of Fletcher’s Mill was the heart of the family’s agricultural industry and the location of the family sawmill.

Fletcher-Family5The legacy of the Fletcher family in Florida dates back all the way to the mid 1800’s. George E. “Cotton” Fletcher‘s father was an entrepreneur that had moved from St. Petersburg to Newberry, Florida in 1931. I asked Cotton how he got his unusual name, he smiled and said that when he was a baby he had white hair so everyone started calling him Cotton Head, the name stuck.

When Cotton was 11 years old the family moved from Newberry to a 2,000 acre farm and ranch where they ran cattle, grew corn, tobacco and vegetables. The Fletchers also harvested and milled timber for warehouses, sheds and cattle pens. Some of that lumber was used to build the Fletcher’s John Deere Tractor dealership in Newberry. An additional 1,000 acres was leased for more cattle that stretched from Jonesville to North Florida Hospital. Cotton said, “Dad was a true businessman, when he saw an opening for business Dad would go for it. He shipped watermelons, squash, cucumbers, peppers and corn up north”.

Cotton attended Newberry Elementary School, Gainesville High School, Florida Southern College in Lakeland and the University of Florida. Fletcher enlisted in the United States Air Force and was selected to attend officer candidate school and in 1953 upon completion became an Air Force 2nd Lieutenant at the age of twenty two. He then worked at the family’s John Deere Tractor dealership until they sold it in 1986. “By 1986 I was already developing residential subdivisions. “My first development was Pine Hill Estates on Newberry Road in 1960. I have continued to develop as sole owner or a principle in 25 residential subdivisions, built hundreds of homes, one 320 unit apartment complex, and several commercial and office properties. I continued in the Air Force Reserves until 1975, retiring with the rank of Major.”

Cotton has been heavily involved in our community, always giving to charitable organizations such as PALS. Mr. Fletcher has served on many boards and committees. Cotton served as Division Chairman for The United Way from 1968 – 1971. In 1969 Cotton was appointed by the Alachua County Commission to serve as a Trustee for Alachua General Hospital. He was a board member of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce from 1978 – 1980; a Founding Board Member of the Council of Economic Outreach; Chairman of Alachua General Hospital – Wellness, Inc. from 1980 – 1982; Chairman of the Farm Equipment Dealers Association of the State of Florida; a board member of the State of Florida Lottery Commission from 1990 – 1995. He is presently serving as a member of the Board of Directors of Santa Fe Healthcare, successor of Alachua General Hospital.

Now Cotton Fletcher works with his son Blake and daughter-in-law Ashley. Blake graduated Oak Hall School in Gainesville and Millsap College in Mississippi. Blake Fletcher has an impressive business background that even included an internship with Merrill-Lynch in New York. Blake serves as the Chief Operating Officer for the Fletcher Family Companies; the companies have a primary focus of single family developments but also include some smaller commercial developments, a construction company, a property management company and other investment interests.

Blake is active in the community serving two terms on the Metropolitan Transportation Advisory Board’s Citizen Advisory Committee, volunteering with the PALS organization, serving on the Newberry-Jonesville Chamber Board from 2010 – 2016 and as president for three years from 2011-2013, serving on Alarion Bank’s advisory committee from 2012-2014, a graduate of the Business Community Coalitions Public Leadership Institute, Leadership Gainesville and Connect Florida, in 2013 joined the Builders Association of North Central Florida Board of Directors, Business in the Heart of Florida 40 under 40 award winner, Business Community Coalition Advisory Board. In 2015 Governor Scott appointed Blake to the Santa Fe College District Board of Trustees.

Ashley Fletcher grew up in Fort Lauderdale and has worked in the property management industry for more than a decade. In 2014 she formed the home owners association property management division of W Group Property Management, LLC (the Fletcher Family’s property management company) Ashley currently serves as an advisory committee member of the Ronald McDonald House.

The Fletcher family name has become a household name in the Gainesville area for their land development and real estate projects.

They are also well known around the State of Florida for their philanthropy.

In early 2015 the Fletcher family lost a vital member of the team – Gloria Williamson Fletcher – the matriarch of the Fletcher family. Gloria’s Way was named in her memory. In early 2017 Gloria’s Way, (located in Jonesville), will offer 42 luxury home sites.

Gloria was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but raised in Gainesville by her parents Bill and Lillian Williamson. She attended Gainesville High School, and received an AA/AS degree from Santa Fe Community College, followed by a BA from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. She received her Juris Doctor degree in 1985 from the University of Florida Law School.

She was employed by the State of Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services in 1977 as a Mental Health Program Specialist, later rising to the position of Program Supervisor and, in 1982, Program Coordinator overseeing an $83M budget and 3200 employees in 16 counties including and surrounding Alachua County and Gainesville.

After her graduation from law school Gloria was an Assistant State Attorney for five years until entering private practice until her passing. As a private attorney she specialized in children’s rights litigation, criminal defense and representing law enforcement.

Gloria is missed every day.

Some of the Boards and Committees She Served On:

  • The United Way
  • PALS
  • Juvenile Justice Committee
  • Florida Children First – Vice Chair
  • Partners for Adolescent Lifestyles
  • Alarion Bank – Founding Board Member
  • Citizens Insurance Florida
  • Judicial Nominating Committee

My wife and I purchased in Fletcher’s Mill in February 2007. We purchased and moved into a Fletcher Community, because we knew from friends and others that Mr. Fletcher built quality neighborhoods. The neighborhood we purchased was a perfect fit for us, because it is a diverse neighborhood with a great mix of people from all walks of life. The layout of the neighborhood is awesome because it allows walking and the ability to mix with your neighbors throughout the development. Our development has been around for a long time and it still looks as great today as it did the day it opened. Everything was planned and put into place for the long term. We are very happy and pleased with Fletcher’s Mill.
– Jeff Brooker

Our experience with Savannah Station has been more than wonderful from the very beginning. Blake Fletcher was very patient with us while we sold our previous home and allowed us to hold on to our choice of lots. We love our Shenandoah model even more today than when we chose it nearly 2 years ago. Eric Gonzalez took really good care of us throughout the building process keeping us informed along the way. Patrick Currie, Bosshardt Realty, kept everything in order from start to finish always being there when we needed him. We believe we chose the BEST when we chose Savannah Station! We LOVE our home!!!
-Tony and Carol Reynolds

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Fletcher Oaks is their latest venture of the Fletcher family. Because of the high standards and reputation of the Fletcher companies over half of the lots are already sold to local builders with homes underway; ready to be moved into late Spring. This subdivision is located on scenic Glen Springs Road, a short walk from Glen Springs Elementary School. This fantastic central Gainesville location in minutes from UF, Shands and the airport. There are many restaurants and supermarkets close by as well. Although it is in the middle of Gainesville you feel that you are in the country with its huge Live Oaks. It is great that the Fletchers have carefully kept the landscape intact.

Fletcher Oaks Homes

  • Ranging from $250,000-$350,000
  • 55 Home sites
  • 3-4 Bedrooms
  • 1,597 – 2,261 sq ft
  • Community Maintained Rear and Front Yards
  • Upgraded Interior Features

The Fletcher family also offers other communities that will fit any budget:

Savannah Station, Alachua
with homes from the mid $100’s

Gloria’s Way – Coming in early 2017.
Homes starting in the mid $400s.

VISIT ONE OF THEIR COMMUNITIES TODAY!

Fletcher Oaks
3651 NW 26th Street Gainesville, FL 32605
352-224-6400