Bill Kribs has lived an active and full life, from sailing and flying to performing with Dorsey, selling Fords and developing communities.
Dec. 15 was a special day for William “Bill” Kribs, the Windermere resident who lives in the Waterford Pointe community he developed about 30 years ago.
For his 100th birthday, his family and neighbors planned a big celebration that included a drive-by parade, a catered meal on the front patio, a string quartet and a proclamation.
Those in attendance were there to honor a man who has led a fascinating and full life and to show their gratitude to the one who created the serene neighborhood in which they reside.
Kribs was born in Evansville, Indiana, in 1920. As a teenager, he fell in love with music and learned how to play the clarinet and tenor saxophone. He created an alias, Jerry Biltmore, when he was 17 and traveled with widely known bands of the Big Band era — playing with performers such as Tommy Dorsey, Les and Larry Elkhart, and Sonny Dunham.
An athlete and sports enthusiast, Kribs tackled a variety of activities through the years.
Sailing was another passion. He got his start in St. Louis, and after moving to Florida, he sailed and raced his 21-foot San Juan and a 30-foot Soveral. In 1988, Kribs and his racing team were runners-up in their class in a national race. He has a trophy case in his home that displays the rewards of a successful sailing career.
Kribs was a pilot until his late 80s, logging between 3,500 and 4,000 hours in the air. He had his commercial pilot’s license and piloted his own plane, making frequent trips between his businesses in Missouri, South Carolina and Florida.
As an avid downhill skier well into his 90s, Kribs has skied all over the west and for many years owned a second home in Keystone, Colorado. He played golf as a young man and later tried his hand at tennis.
Kribs entered the automobile business when he joined a brother at a used-car lot in the early 1950s. Another brother joined later. Kribs owned Plymouth, Ford and Chevrolet dealerships as well but always was fond of the Ford, almost always driving a silver Ford Thunderbird.
He bought Heintzelman Ford in Orlando and renamed it Sun State Ford. All of his auto dealerships were sold once he turned his attention to development and real estate, and he was responsible for developing Oakwater Estates, in Apopka, and his own residential community of Waterford Pointe. An apartment complex and several office buildings also were developed by Kribs.
His advice for living to see 100?
“Stay active and do something you love,” Kribs said.
He still was snow-skiing and riding his bicycle regularly at the age of 96. He works out weekly with a trainer. He still has a home office and a secretary.
Many of Kribs’ relatives were in Windermere Dec. 15 to celebrate the family patriarch’s milestone birthday. He has five children, Karen Kribs, Bill Kribs Jr., Paul Kribs, Anastasia Hursh and the late Lisa Kribs; as well as four grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and another great-grandchild on the way.
The homeowners’ association at Waterford Pointe wrote a proclamation for Kribs and presented it to him during the celebration. It recognized his ability to take an old orange grove and turn it into an oak tree farm, which provided trees for Walt Disney World, and his vision to create a private community with a park-like setting around lakes and ponds.
And in a final act of authority, the Waterford Pointe HOA noted the logo swan is hereby named Bill.