CECIL FARRIS BRYANT, Florida’s 34th Governor, was born in Marion County, Florida, on July 26, 1914. He earned a business degree from the University of Florida in 1935 and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1938. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy as a gunnery and antisubmarine officer in the North Atlantic, Pacific, and Mediterranean. Bryant entered politics in 1946 as a member of the Florida House of Representatives, a position he served for five terms, including a 1953 term as speaker. He ran unsuccessfully for the governor’s office in 1956, but was victorious in his 1960 gubernatorial bid. During his tenure, Governor Bryant advocated for land purchases to be used for conservation and park projects; and he endorsed water control developments, such as the Cross Florida Barge Canal. Bryant also was a proponent of increasing state funds to support educational institutions and programs and he spent millions on highway construction throughout the state. The Sunshine State Parkway from Ft. Pierce to Wildewood, the completion of the Florida Turnpike, and the expansion of interstates 75, 4 and 95, all were advanced during his administration. Although a segregationist, Bryant sent his three daughters to integrated schools, and he pushed for fellow Floridians to accept the Federal Civil Rights Act. After leaving office on January 5, 1965, he chaired the board of the National Life of Florida Corporation and on the Voyager Life Insurance Company. He was appointed director of the Office of Emergency Planning, and was a member and chair of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. He also ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1970. Governor Cecil F. Bryant died on March 1, 2002 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Florida State Archives holds the official papers of Cecil Farris Bryant.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.