This week in West Orange County history: Dec. 22, 2022.

These people and events shaped the West Orange County we know and love today.

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70 years ago

Mr. and Mrs. George Akin entertained a group of young couples in their home, serving supper, watching television and playing canasta. The home was most attractively decorated in the season’s motif, and the television shows came through extra clearly. Guests were Mr. and Mrs. Lester Austin, Mr. and Mrs. Ward Britt, Mr. and Mrs. Judson Moore, Mr. and Mrs. Johnie Griffin, Mr. and Mrs. Bob Lease and Mr. and Mrs. Franklin Cappleman.


50 years ago

Kay Sims and Virginia McNeil of Bay Hill — together with Kay’s sister, Eleanor Lauren, of Windermere — recently opened an attractive new store in the Turkey Lake Shopping Center on Kirkman Road.


45 years ago

Thanks to Buzz Lamb’s class and Kitty Osburn and Kelly Hicks’ Girl Scout troop for making tray favors for the Meals on Wheels program. These favors were a welcome added embellishment to a much-appreciated service.


40 years ago

Oakland had a “paintin’ party” for the post office building, which was owned by the town. Many people came to paint, fix the roof, trim trees or just watch.


30 years ago

Christopher Pfeiffer, a 15-year-old Winter Garden teen with cerebral palsy, got his much-needed computer because of a generous anonymous donor.

“On Christmas Eve 1985, W.T. ‘Tommy’ Zeigler had an enviable life. His business was prospering. He was happily married and an outstanding member of his community. But in a few hours that night, the American dream became Zeigler’s nightmare. He was the only survivor of a shooting spree in which his wife, in-laws and a bystander were brutally slain in his (Winter Garden) furniture store. On Christmas Day, Zeigler awoke in a hospital, critically injured, to find that he was the prime suspect.…” “Fatal Flaw,” a new book by journalist Philip Finch, told an intriguing story of an innocent man who was unjustly found guilty. Finch claimed that, at every stage of the investigation, mysterious oversights and outright negligence occurred, working together to deliver a faulty verdict. According to the book, the judge, jury, prosecutor, local law enforcement officials, criminal investigators and FBI lab all acted wrongly. It also asserted that the key witnesses for the state all lied under oath.

“The city of Ocoee has reinvented itself,” said Bruce Behrens, director of planning. The city approved the annexation of 1,861.3 acres, an increase of more than 30% in Ocoee’s total land area. These annexations moved the city’s boundaries deeper into the Clarcona and Gotha communities in unincorporated Orange County.




The West Orange Times & Observer and the Southwest Orange Observer wish our readers and the community a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Here are some season’s greetings from Dec. 23, 1982, and Dec. 19, 2002.



This cheerfully optimistic ad ran in the Winter Garden Times during Christmas 1932. The Tavares & Gulf Railroad, whose 1913 Winter Garden depot serves as today’s Central Florida Railroad Museum, was not noted for keeping a timely schedule — but that didn’t stop the company from shipping more citrus and produce than any other national railroad in its class during the 1940s.

The Tavares & Gulf, which had operated under that name even after the Seaboard Air Line-Seaboard Coast Line merger absorbed it, had its final run Dec. 28, 1969.

“The Tavares & Gulf Legacy,” an illustrated history by Rick Cronin and Phil Cross, tells the story of West Orange County’s beloved railroad. It’s available for purchase at both the Central Florida Railroad Museum and the Winter Garden Heritage Museum.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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