This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of
Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.
This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limts the amount of material that may be
For all other permissions and requests, contact the
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Interviewee: Keith Austin
Interviewer: Samuel Proctor
June 9, 1994
Keith Austin begins the interview by giving his family history, childhood in New York,
West Virginia and Florida, early education, growing up in Jacksonville during World War
II (pages 1-11). When seventeen, Austin joined the military and served in the army in
Korea. He describes his training and experiences in Korea (pages 11-14). After Korea,
Austin returned to Florida to attend the University of Florida as an undergraduate and
subsequently attended Florida law school. He describes his course work and
experiences there (pages 14-22). He graduated and began working as an attorney in
Jacksonville. He later went to work in Illinois for his father, in management. He next
describes his wife's background, education and jobs. He also lists his children's names
and describes their families (pages 22-28). He goes on to talk more about his job in
Illinois and why he left it to come back to Florida with his father. He decided to get
another degree at Florida in accounting and gives his impressions of Dean Donald Hart
and James Lanham. He describes basic living arrangements and jobs he held while in
school (pages 28-34). He was soon offered a job as an interim instructor at the
university, which he accepted, and taught business law. He took and passed the CPA
exam and continued teaching part-time in the law school and part-time in the
Meanwhile, Austin continued his schooling and worked on his master's degree, which
he did not receive because he made the decision to go into private practice. He began
to specialize in taxation and speaks of the growth of his practice. He mentions his
service on the board of Florida National Bank. (pages 34-39). He talks about his contact
and experiences with Ed Ball. This led into the idea of creating a separate School of
Accounting at the University of Florida. He describes the development of the concept
and the people who were involved in that, including the role of UF president Bob
Marston, Al Warrington and Robert Lanzillotti. He also explains the funding and
procurement of money for the facilities (pages 39-46). Austin next explains Lanzillotti's
role in the organization of the accounting school in more detail. He talks about hiring
faculty, including John Simmons. He also continues to speak about fund raising. He
talks about the course work and programs set up in the accounting school. He also
talks about the quality of the accounting program at UF and compares it to other
accounting schools (pages 46-53). He speaks of money he has given to the university
and how it was spent. He then returns to the subject of the establishment of the
accounting school and Fred Fisher's role in the school (pages 53-57). Austin ends the
interview by talking about dyslexia, his continuing involvement with the university and
the Foundation, as well as mentioning Bob Ellison, Doug Thompson, Jack Kramer and
various other graduates of the University of Florida accounting school (pages 57-62).
P: [I am interviewing Keith] Austin in my office here at the museum. This is June 9,
1994. I am Sam Proctor. Mr. Austin has done an earlier interview with us for the
Law School project, but today I am mainly interested in talking to him about his
career as an accountant and the role that he played in helping to set up the Fisher
School of Accounting on our campus. I want to start out by first asking you, Keith,
and I know this is repetition of some of the earlier stuff, [but] when were you born?
A: July 2, 1928 in Miami, Florida.
P: So you are approaching a birthday now?
A: Yes, I am.
P: Your thirty-ninth birthday?
P: Thirty-eighth, oh, you are counting backwards, then. Tell me the name of your
A: Richard James Austin.
P: And he was from where?
A: He was a Canadian from St. Catharines, Ontario.
P: And your mother?
A: Harriet Isabel Bain was her maiden name.
P: And I understand both of them were from Canada.
A: My mother was from Niagara Falls, [Ontario] and my father was from St Catharines,
P: And tell me how they first came to Florida, because I think that is interesting.
A: It is. They came to Florida on their honeymoon in 1923. You have to understand,
my father was one of seventeen, a big farm family. [They lived] just outside of St.
Catharines, Ontario. And my mother was one of seven. Her father came directly
from Scotland, I believe. My middle name is Campbell. My father's mother was a
Campbell. That is where I got that name. It is Keith Campbell Austin.
They went to Miami on their honeymoon. My father was in the Canadian Army
during World War I. He was one of the those guys who joined the army the day
Canada went into the conflict. He was only seventeen at the time, and he spent
four years in France. He had a very distinguished military record. So he was a little
older. He was nine years older than my mother. They went to Miami on their
P: I think that is interesting in itself, going from Canada to Miami.
A: When they got there, one of my uncles, Uncle Tom Austin, was in the real estate
business with someone named Roy. I think that was his name. The firm was called
Austin Brothers and Roy, and I never have been able to find out anything about
Roy. I think he is deceased. Somehow I know that.
P: Does the "Brothers" mean that your father went into the business?
A: Right. It was Uncle Tom and my father, and they were in the real estate business.
These are little things that I have heard, I guess, more from my mother than
anything else. They would sell real estate like the Fuller Brush salesmen, from door-
to-door or standing on the street corner. He helped dig the sewer system on
Biscayne Boulevard, and he used to drive a Lincoln.
P: A left over from more prosperous days? [Laughter]
A: He wore a bowler-type hat.
P: A true Canadian. [Laughter]
A: He was on a bank board and all those kind of things. [He wore] spats. [Laughter]
P: When the boom bubble burst in 1926 .
A: He stayed here.
P: When the collapse [occurred], you had the hurricane of September 1926. The boom
ended in 1926. I am not sure that the people in Miami were that conscious of the
end of it, but it was, and things began to go downhill very quickly. I presume that
people like your father began to lose out because business began to dry up. Is that
A: That is the story, riches to rags and rags to riches. My father had been inclined to
be like that. He was a plunger, that is what I called him. He influenced me a lot
in my professional life.
P: He lived well when the money was coming in, if he was driving a Lincoln. And
A: And dressing well, but digging the sewer system.
P: Yes. But he did that when he lost out and that was the only job he could get. What
did you all do? Do you remember where you lived in Miami? Do you remember
any of those early years?
A: Not really, but the area of Little River. My father helped developed that area.
Now, whether my Uncle Tom was involved ...
P: That was around 79th Street, I believe, north of the city.
A: That was right. He was on the board of the Little River Bank, I think, at the time,
and he used to tell a story about one of the indications that he knew things were
getting too good. They paid off the bank director fees in cash, and one of the
directors took the $100 bill they got back then and lit a cigar with it and threw it
P: Things were getting very good. But when you came along in 1928, things were
already getting bad. Florida had already started a depression even before the rest
of the nation. You were born in July 1928. There was that second disastrous
hurricane in September.
A: That destroyed our home. My brother probably has the picture of my mother and
father and brother and I, and I was only three months old, sitting on what was left
of the house. (I cannot find the pictures; I assume my brother probably has them.)
I can remember pictures of the devastation of that hurricane. Then they went back
north, but not right away. I have a blind spot there. I figure that within a year or
two they went back north, I would say about 1929 or 1930, but I am not sure. I have
My father, being of an entrepreneurial spirit, started a chain of grocery stores.
Outside of St. Catharines they had a large farm, and also a meat market in St.
Catharines. I have pictures of that with all of these kids who really were the farm
hands. My father had that background, so he started what was known as Austin
Market Centers. His original store was known as Mamouth Market Center. He
ended up with seven stores sometime around the end of the 1930s. It did not take
him long to build that.
P: He certainly was a man who did not let grass grow under his feet.
A: He sure was not. In fact, to be honest with you, when I went into the army and they
interviewed me for classification, there was a WAC [Women's Army Corps]
interviewing me. I ended up in the infantry, training, but when I got to Korea for
classification, this WAC was from Buffalo, New York, and she saw my name and
made some off-comment about Austin Market Centers, and I thought that was
interesting. I said, "You remember that?" And she said, "Yes." I said, "Well, that
was my father."
P: Your father's fame preceded you. [Laughter]
A: So I ended up, as a result of that, being a meat and dairy inspector.
P: So you lived in Canada for awhile?
A: No, not Canada.
A: We lived, actually, in a place called the township of Tonawanda [New York].
P: How is that spelled?
A: Have you ever heard of Kenmore, a suburb of Buffalo?
P: I have heard of it.
A: Well, it is just outside of [Kenmore]. It is an Indian name. [There is] Niagara Falls,
United States, and the town of Tonawanda, and then there is the township that is
named Tonawanda. We lived in the township.
P: Named for an Indian. Okay, you leave Miami around 1929 or 1930, you go up to
Tonawanda, your father is working up there in this chain that he has developed ...
A: And my recollection then is some conversation with people of the A&P Tea
Company, who wanted to buy his stores. They were coming out of the ground at that
time, but were much better financed. In the late 1930s, 1938, in that area, they
became tough competition.
P: I want to go back, Keith, and make sure my chronology is right.
P: Your father is first in the real estate business. That collapses as a result of the
collapse of the real estate boom, then he gets a job working for the city helping to
P: Physically digging?
A: Physically digging ditches. Right down Biscayne Boulevard, the sewer system is
underneath that street, and I can remember [my mother] saying my father knew that
street well. [Laughter]
P: So, anyway, he is working either for the city or the county.
A: Jobs like that would be temporary. I do not know how temporary.
P: Yes. But he was getting paid every Saturday, and bringing some money into the
A: Also, he might sell some real estate here and there and yonder.
P: So as a result, he leaves that job [and] you go to Canada. You stay in [New York]
A: We used to go to Canada and Niagara Falls and St. Catharines every weekend. My
brother and I, when we were in our [youth], from eight to twelve, we spent the
summers on a farm.
P: You and your brother are separated by about four years?
A: A year and a half.
P: Oh, okay. So you go up to northern New York, and you are there for how long
during the 1930s?
A: We left there, I would say, in 1940.
P: But the brunt of the depression years are spent there?
P: And it could not have been a hard life for the Austins, since your father had the
A: No. I have been up there one time in recent years to see the home that we lived
in, primarily because we planted a cherry tree in our backyard there, and it was one
of the finer neighborhoods in an area called Deerhurst Park.
P: So as a kid in the 1930s, you were not .
A: I was unaffected by all that.
P: You were unaffected. You did not have to go out peddling papers and that sort of
A: When we left there, I did get a paper route. All those problems and things that
P: What brought you back to Florida and, specifically, Jacksonville?
A: We made a stop for nine months, believe it or not, in West Virginia. My father had
a job for some company and he was traveling as a salesman. We lived part of the
time in Huntington, West Virginia, and Charleston. In fact, in Huntington, I can
remember, we went to a preparatory school like P.K. Yonge [Lab School,
Gainesville, Florida]. [It] was at Marshall University, but just for one semester.
I think I was in about the seventh grade, and we liked it. I liked the school, and I
know my mother was very interested that my brother and I get good educations. She
was really into that. Her idea [was that] you teach them how to read and write and
then they can be and do anything they want to be. [She was] very Scottish. You
She never complained about anything, and my father got to Jacksonville [Florida].
He did not like the job he was doing. [I figured that out] by deductive reasoning,
I never heard him say that, but I just assume that now that I am older. He came to
Jacksonville thinking that he would get a job there, or start something. He wanted
to get back to Florida. They liked it. Something came up that got them back to
Jacksonville, and I think it was a business opportunity because we did open a
restaurant there for a brief period of time.
A: It was out U.S. Highway 1.
P: Well, you lived in southside, because I understand that you went to Landon [Junior
A: We always lived in the Southside. Somehow or another, in that era, he met some
fellow from St. Augustine who owned the Green Cove Fishery, and Green Cove
[Springs] was just a little town, maybe 1,500 people.
P: So he closed the restaurant and went to work?
A: He closed the restaurant, and he may have worked at the shipyard for awhile. If not,
I just remember him with one of those hats. In fact, he may have done that after
the restaurant was open and they were experiencing some financial stress, [with]
which I never was involved. I was completely out of that. I do not know the details
of this. Suddenly, he went down to Green Cove.
In fact, we even went down to Ocala [Florida] during this time and looked at a dairy
farm, which I have never been able to figure out where it was. My brother and I
really liked that. It was a several-hundred-acre dairy farm near Ocala. I can
remember going to Ocala and spending the weekend and watching them milk the
cows, because we had had this kind of experience up north. My brother and I could
do all of that farm work. We had spent summers doing it, and my father was a
farmer. So that was an interest. But it is hard to explain things like that to people.
My father was one that never worked for anybody very long. I have never worked
for anybody very long. My brother is the same way. It seems either you do not get
along with people, or what, I do not know, but I row my own boat. My brother
tried to practice law with your brother. I do not know what happened and do not
want to know.
P: My brother George [Proctor]. Was it with George or with Sol [Proctor]?
A: Sol. I knew Sol, but I never discussed it with my brother, why or whatever.
P: Anyway, you are back in Jacksonville, [and] your father is looking for something to
do after the restaurant. He had a restaurant, worked for awhile in the shipyard, and
now he is ready to launch out on something of an independent nature.
A: And he met some fellow, I think it was at the shipyard, that owned the fisheries in
Green Cove Springs. I guess the war was then [beginning].
P: Well, December 1941 is Pearl Harbor.
A: That is right. I remember we were in West Virginia when that happened.
P: So you came to Florida after we went into the war. If you were born in 1928, and
you come to Florida in 1942, then you are still just a youngster.
A: That is right.
P: In 1942 you were thirteen years old.
A: My brother and I quit going back up to the farm in Canada, after we left New York.
P: Because the war is on now.
A: Everybody remembers what they were doing on Pearl Harbor day. We were leaving,
getting ready to come to Jacksonville.
P: Now, you go into school, then, on the Southside. Landon is a senior high school, so
where did you go to school?
A: Landon was a junior and senior [high school].
P: [At] thirteen years old are you already in junior high school?
A: I think I went into the eighth grade.
P: Okay. So you spend your education years at Landon Junior and Senior High
A: I went to the forty-fifth reunion and they had annuals that showed pictures of me
that I had not seen, I will be honest with you.
P: So what did your father do in the Green Cove Springs fishery?
A: [He] was really a fish broker. The fishermen would come to him and he would buy
their fish and turn around and sell it. He would pack the fish in metal containers
inside barrels and ship them to retailers. When they had rationing of food, one thing
that they did not ration was fish.
P: Yes. But they did meat.
A: Meat was rationed, not fish. Through some connections that [my father] had had
as a result of his stores that he had up around Buffalo, he knew some fellow up
there [who] wanted all the fish that you could possibly catch.
There were two businesses [in Green Cove Springs], a textile place that made
stockings for ladies which I think is still there, and the fishing industry. There was
a big fish house. Everybody called it the fish house. Have you been to Green Cove
P: Not lately.
A: Coming from Gainesville or Penney Farms, if you go right down ...
P: ... that main street ...
A: ... you can see the [St. Johns] River right down before you turn right going to the
bridge over the St. Johns River.
P: I know where that is.
A: That is where the fish house was, right at the end of that street.
P: Now your father had disposed of his stores up in New York before he came to
Florida, so he probably came with some capital investment. That may have given
him the wherewithal to go into the fish business. He must have brought some
dollars with him.
A: He had to, he was a plunger.
P: He took big risks.
A: Risks, no problem. Now, how I would know about that [is that] it upset my mother
a great deal. But she would go along with it. However, she always had her hands
on the purse strings.
P: Is it just you and your brother? No other siblings?
A: My brother and I.
P: And you are both too young to go into service yet.
P: You did not go into World War II. You do not go into the military until after the
war is over.
A: That is right.
P: Now, what about the war years for two youngsters growing up in Jacksonville?
A: Jacksonville had become a military. I mean, it was military through and through.
And being in high school, if you took a date to the movie, you might see 500 sailors,
all of them interested in your date. So there was always tension.
P: And Camp Blanding was right on the outskirts.
A: And Camp Blanding and Green Cove, that was down there, too. I worked for the
Gulf Oil Company. I worked at their stations on Miami Road and Third and Main
Street in Jacksonville.
P: Now, remember, you are just thirteen, fourteen, fifteen years old at the time.
A: A classmate of mine, Bill Yetter was his name, got me a job with Gulf. I forget now
how we got around any age problem. I do not remember that that was a problem.
P: What did you do?
A: Just worked at their filling stations and pumped gas.
P: Those were the days you could bring a car in and get service.
A: That is right. And I got very good at it and did a good job. [I] learned a lot about
P: What did your brother do?
A: Al Davis Delivery Service, did you ever hear of that?
A: I remember that [my brother] was a delivery boy for them. Al Davis used to
contract out to Western Union. Now, we had just been through the D-Day scenario,
and there was also the Battle of the Bulge, but the Twenty-ninth Infantry division,
I believe, trained at Camp Blanding. As a result of that, there were a lot of families
that stayed around the Jacksonville area.
I can remember coming home one afternoon and my brother had quit his job as a
delivery boy; I do not remember when except it was around the Battle of the Bulge
or D-Day. I think I was fourteen or fifteen years old, and was following the war.
I was irritated, I do remember, that the war ended.
P: Well, the Battle of the Bulge was in 1944.
A: Well, when they went in on D-Day, I can remember being irritated that they did not
wait for me. [Laughter]
P: Well, that was in June of 1944, and the Bulge battle is at the very end of the year.
A: Okay. My brother quit his job because that day he delivered five "We regret to
inform you .. ." letters, and [witnessed] the hysterical [families]. He was just torn
up over it. Here was this kid. He said he would get off his bike and start walking
to the door and somebody would scream. Everybody ...
P: ... knew what was going to happen.
A: And I could not believe he quit his job. [Laughter]
P: [Laughter] Coming from an entrepreneur family. It sounds to me like both of you
were like your father. You wanted to be successful.
A: Yes. I guess so.
P: The war ends in 1945, first in Europe and then in Japan. Does life change for the
A: Well, I was seventeen. I have an article about my father which I found after my
mother passed away. At the second battle of Ypres in France [Belgium], (April 17
to May 17, 1915) he was with the Nineteenth Infantry regiment. He was one of
thirty out of two thousand who survived the first gassing by the Germans. [In the
Second Battle of Ypres, 1915, the German Army used poison gas as a weapon for
the first time].
P: The Germans did the gassing?
A: The Germans did the gassing, but the wind changed, and the gas started going back
on the Germans. But my father said, being young like he was, he was one of the
dumb ones who still had his gas mask. Most of the rest had gotten rid of theirs. He
got something from the king. I think this article was about the king honoring the
survivors in Toronto, Canada. It was an interesting article; I probably should have
brought it along.
P: Yes, and make a copy of it for us for the file.
A: All right, I will.
P: The war is over now, and are both of you still working?
A: My brother was drafted and he was up near Macon, Georgia going through infantry
P: I think that was Camp Gordon.
A: No, not at Macon.
A: No. Benning is at Columbus, [Georgia]. Sam, I have been in both the army and the
P: You are a man of great versatility. [Laughter] Anyway, he was in the service.
A: [He was] in the service. The war was ongoing.
P: He must have been drafted when he was very young, too.
A: Eighteen. Just as he became eighteen. I joined when I was seventeen. So I joined
in June of 1946.
P: Just on the eve of your birthday. You would have been eighteen.
A: I would have been eighteen, that is right. And [I] went through infantry training and
went to Korea.
P: Now, you came into service in the army as a private in the infantry?
A: As a private in the infantry.
P: And this was in June of 1946. And now the war in Europe is just over.
A: And war with Japan.
P: You come into the service in 1946, so everybody is leaving the army at the time that
you are coming in, is that right?
A: I was in the army of occupation.
P: Now, where did you train?
A: I trained at Fort McClellan.
P: You did not go through Blanding?
A: Not Blanding at all. Fort McClellan, Alabama, infantry basic training.
P: Is that near Anniston [Alabama], in that area?
A: Anniston was the town. From there they shipped me to Korea, and in the process
we stopped in Japan at Yokohama.
P: Now, they sent you to Korea because that had been freed from the Japanese at the
end of the war, and American troops were stationed there.
A: American troops were stationed there, and I can remember vividly coming into the
harbor at Yokohama. Ships were sunk and the place was devastated. You could tell
a war had been going on [there].
A: We could not get off the ship in the harbor, but the people were coming out looking
for food and we would throw them stuff. But they were like animals, rats, out there.
It was hard for me to realize what had happened. Then [we] went on to Korea, and
at Inchon, [South] Korea, I had been one of the first to get on the ship because my
name began with an A. I was also the first to get off. Well, at Inchon Harbor
there are forty-foot tides and we went in in a landing craft, something that you have
probably seen in the movies, just like they went in on D-Day. We went in on those
kind of boats.
P: That just makes me seasick thinking about it.
A: We hit the beach there, and I was in the very first [group]. The officer (either a
coast guardsman or navy ensign) was running the ship, the little landing craft. He
lowered the ramp and we were all in dress uniform and full field pack [with] rifles.
I looked back at him and said, "You are stopping this thing way too soon. We have
got a hundred yards to dry land and we might drown before we get there."
P: You were not going to get shot at, but you might drown. [Laughter]
A: I was not worrying about that, and he drew a forty-five and said, "Get out." So we
P: And you are a tall guy.
A: In fact, we had to help some fellows in. That is how it was in Korea. I did not get
a real shower or a bath for eight months. It was kind of bad.
P: Nobody wanted to stay around you much.
A: Well, we were all like that. The other thing that you mention about the fellows [is]
that the troops who were there had all come off of Okinawa and places like that and
they had points. Do you remember points?
P: I remember.
A: Here I was, just a kid.
P: No battle experience and no points.
A: No points. They are all comparing points and everything about going home and I
am thinking, "Well, I am not worried about all of that." And then the rule came
down that even though you might have enough points, you had to have somebody
to replace you, to take your job.
It was at the replacement depot where they filtered me out of the infantry and put
me in the veterinary corp inspecting meat and dairy products. They picked me right
out of the group and I found out later that that classifier, that girl, had done that.
P: Had taken care of you.
A: And that helped me get out of that infantry. There were the sixth and seventh
infantry divisions. The sixth was in the southern part of Korea, and the seventh was
working the thirty-eighth parallel. It was very interesting.
P: So you stayed in the army for two years.
A: A year and a half.
P: Were you stationed always in Korea?
A: Always in Korea. I went over there after, I think, thirteen weeks of basic training
in Anniston, Alabama, at Fort McClellan.
P: And where did you get out?
A: I got out at Seattle, [Washington], Fort Lawton.
P: And then they bring you home to Jacksonville.
A: [They] brought me home to Jacksonville.
P: Now, talk about your decision to go ...
A: That was in November, right around Thanksgiving.
P: Okay. I had you down from 1946 to 1948 in the army.
A: Well, I got out and my brother was already going to the University of Florida.
P: Law school?
A: He was not in law school yet.
P: And neither were you, of course, because you had to do your undergraduate first.
A: That is right. When I got here, he used to stay up all night with me, beating on me
to learn something. He was always the smart one, and I had to work for everything.
P: Now, what made you decide to come to college in the first place, and specifically the
University of Florida? You had the GI Bill.
A: That is a hard thing to put the finger on, but in the army I learned what I did not
want to be. I think I became aware of what my mother was always saying, that
education was the key--otherwise I was going to end up working for Gulf in a filling
station, or something like that.
P: Or being rich like your father.
A: My father, in the final analysis, after the war, got out of the seafood business in
Green Cove. Two things happened. One, they passed a no-seining in freshwater
law. I can remember them talking about that. And the other was the navy elected
to make Green Cove the berthing place for a bunch of ships. I do not know whether
P: I do remember all those.
A: Boy, that was something.
P: And mothballs. Hundreds of them.
A: I could not believe. You know, here is the sleepy little town of Green Cove Springs
and the fish house sat here and the city dock was the next place over, where the pool
is and all that stuff. These were the big landing craft things. And they gave them
liberty and they came into that little town of Green Cove Springs, and it has never
been the same.
P: Tore it up. [Laughter]
A: Some of the things that I saw there--you would not believe that that could happen.
P: A little surplus energy.
A: Yes. But I learned from that.
P: Well, let us pick up with your story. Now, you come back home around
Thanksgiving time 1947. Your brother is already in school at the University of
Florida. What motivated you to go to college in the first place?
A: Well, I could afford it with this GI Bill, and the influence of my brother.
P: And your mother.
A: And my mother. School was always easy for my brother.
P: So they are the ones pushing you into college. Now, why University of Florida?
A: [It was] right here. It never entered my mind to go anywhere else.
P: And your brother was here.
A: When they put the clamps on the fishing business--which was very good, incidentally--
my father just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I am not saying
he got fabulously wealthy or anything, but he was doing well. He met a fellow who
retired from the Ford Motor Company [who lived] there in Green Cove Springs, and
when the war was over, he and my father used to socialize together and chat. He
had a connection with the Ford Motor Company.
He had been a regional manager for Ford Motor Company in the Midwest, and he
said to my father, "Well, the thing to do now is get an automobile agency because
there is a tremendous demand for cars." And my father had gotten the first
Plymouth that was sold in Green Cove after the war. I will not get into how that
happened. He ended up being a Lincoln-Mercury dealer in Highland Park, Illinois.
Now that would be about 1948. He sold out in about 1955.
P: Now, he gets the Plymouth agency in Green Cove?
A: He just bought the first new Plymouth car. He was still in the fish business. And
the Plymouth dealer there also had a filling station. Now, my father being in the fish
business and fish being food, [with] the rationing of gas and everything like that,
commercial fishing was one of the few things that had unlimited gas. And the reason
there was gas rationing was not because there was a lack of gas, it was because of
The fellow who had the Plymouth dealership there was very nice to my daddy, and
my father had really unlimited access to gasoline. But he never abused it. I know
one time, the fellow had a boat and let my father have some gas because he was
ostensibly going fishing for him or something like that. My father did not ask [the
man with the Plymouth dealership], he volunteered [that] when [he got] the first
new Plymouth [he would] see that [my father] got it. And he did. He stuck by his
P: But he did not get the Ford agency as suggested by his buddy.
A: Well, what happened [was] they went up to the Chicago area. I was still in school
during part of this time. When I left high school, I was gone. I went in the army,
then I came here to the University.
P: Now you are back from the army, yes.
A: And my mother and father went up to north of Chicago [to] Highland Park. He
ended up with a Lincoln-Mercury dealership up there. The business was very good
P: So in the meantime, you are here at the University of Florida as an undergraduate
A: Right. But we still had the place in Green Cove Springs. What he did when he left
there [was] convert that into a rental apartment, and I used to take care of it. My
brother had married a girl who lived in Doctor's Inlet. One of the Huntleys. She
was a cousin of Louis Huntley who with his brother built the Huntley Jiffy chain.
They have recently sold out to a French company. My brother has been married
three times, and he and his first wife had two children.
P: This is his first wife now.
A: First wife.
P: What was her first name?
P: Eva Huntley.
A: And her daddy and the daddy of the Huntley Jiffy developers were brothers and
farmed in Doctor's Inlet.
P: What is Huntley Jiffy?
A: They are Seven-Eleven type stores, the Huntley Jiffys. Louis and his brother had
[about] 380 of them. Louis got out of the army the same time I did, and since my
brother married his cousin, we used to go around together. They have now since
sold those stores. I went over and played in a golf tournament at Timuquana
[Country Club in Jacksonville]; he is a member there. He lives in Orange Park.
P: Your brother was in law school at this time?
A: No. He did the same thing I did. He went to undergraduate school and then to law
school without a degree.
P: You could do that then.
A: Yes. I would say it was USAFI, but I do not know. [USAFI was a test that veterans
took to receive credit in courses, enabling them to finish college faster.]
P: It was. What you were doing was exactly that, taking those tests based upon your
A: I did very well on some of them; the math was always my strong area.
P: I noticed you only had to take three semesters before you were eligible to go into
the law school.
A: That is right. I started in February of 1948 and graduated with a law degree in June
P: You cannot do that anymore.
A: You cannot do that anymore.
P: You also had the diploma privilege, did you not?
A: I had the diploma privilege, but I was also in the first class of freshmen when Dean
P: This is Henry [Anderson] Fenn, [Dean of the College of Law, 1948-1958].
A: Henry Fenn. And he gave us that famous speech, "Look on your left, look on your
right, only one of you is going to be around." To this day, if Henry Fenn were to
walk in here, I would be trembling. [Laughter]
P: You had decided at that moment that you were going to be the middle one, that you
were going to be the person. [Laughter]
A: I do not think I have ever been intimidated by anyone ever, like Henry Fenn.
P: So you come in, then, in 1949?
A: 1948. I started in February 1948.
P: And you are here until 1952.
A: I graduated in June 1952, [and] went to Jacksonville. I left here that night with the
diploma privilege. Then my brother and a fellow named Donald Gibson [opened
a law office in Jacksonville]. He was a Landon boy. He had gone to FSU [Florida
P: Not in law school?
A: Not in law school. I think he went to Florida, and he and my brother had graduated
here and opened a law office in Jacksonville, the Smith Building, 100 East Forsyth
Street. And it was all set up. I mean, I had my office and everything six months
before I really graduated. We had the name, we had the sign--it was Austin, Gibson
P: You were the last Austin.
A: I was the last. [Laughter] And I never darkened the premises until I graduated.
Well, I may have gone down there at night to look at it.
P: Admire the sign. [Laughter]
A: It was all being financed by my money, basically.
P: Where did you get the money?
A: I saved every penny I earned in the army.
P: Did you make some money playing poker?
A: I made some money playing poker. A major who was head of the [forces in] Korea
came by, not to meet me, but I happened to be there. He and the captain were
talking about [my going home] and he said, "Well, you can go home when you have
somebody who can make out this report. And you have at least a noncommissioned
officer signing it." So I can remember the conversation between those guys, and I
said, "Well, I do not know where that is going." I was doing all the gopher work, but
he suddenly showed me how to make out this report.
P: You could see the handwriting on the wall.
A: I could see the handwriting. He told me there was one thing that you have to watch
out for. Every month before you finalized this report, the quartermaster, who is a
full colonel, would call you. He would have a list of all the stuff he was short, and
he would say, "Now, did you condemn so many pounds of this?" So you just wrote
it down, yes, and you balance his books for him, and you would not have any
problems with anything.
P: That explains it away. Yes, that is what we did.
A: Exactly. "How much was that again, colonel?" Suddenly, our captain was gone. I
filled out one report and after about a week, he was gone. He said, "Well, you can
do it. You know how to do it."
P: Private Austin, you are it. [Laughter]
A: So at the end of that month I went in to get paid, and they paid in cash. You sign
for it. That is how the army used to work. Well, the paymaster had paid me $120.
I will never forget this. I took it and went back to the [office]. He had paid me
$120, and I only should have gotten $75. And I agonized over that till the day was
almost over and I went back down to the orderly room and the lieutenant was still
there. I went in to him and I said, "I think you have overpaid me." Well, he about
had a conniption fit. I found out later he would have to pay [the difference] out of
his [pocket] if he had done that. I sat there, he got out the [books], and he was
really upset. He said, "No, I paid you the right [amount]." I said, "How?" He said,
"You are a sergeant." [I said,] "A what?" [Laughter]
So I walked back to the orderly room and went inside. At that time the ranking man
in the battalion was an experienced [sergeant]. He had come off Okinawa. He was
a staff sergeant. I went in there and said, "Let me ask you something. Did some
orders come through here for me? Am I a sergeant?" He said, "Yes. I forgot to
tell you about that Austin." I think he purposely did not want this young kid [to be
a sergeant]. [He thought,] "He is not even dry behind the ears." I immediately got
P: Your new stripes. [Laughter]
A: And I was a heavyweight in the battalion, really. We were just attached to the
quartermaster batallion for quarters and rations.
P: Well, get back to the University now. That is what I want to develop. You take
the USAFI tests, so that means you get a lot of the basic stuff out of the way. And
what did you have to do then, three semesters of undergraduate [work]?
A: Three semesters and then [I went] into law school.
P: Did you have to take any of the C courses?
A: I took some of them, yes. I would have to look at my record, but I did very well
[with] the help of my brother.
P: Keith, was it a mistake to be exempt from many of these basic courses?
A: That was a mistake. See, it was math-oriented stuff. I actually, Sam, took some
courses. I took a lot of hours. I took courses I did not [need]. I had a change in
attitude [because] one of my roommates was a sociology-type guy. He gave me a lot
of tests and got me involved to find out [what my talents were]. He was a veteran,
an older fellow. I cannot remember his name.
P: I am just wondering, did you feel over the years that you missed out in taking a
course in English literature or a course in history or something like that?
A: Yes. I regret that.
P: But of course at that time, you were glad to get through as quickly as possible.
A: I was weighing dollars against how many hours.
P: And you were still a single man.
A: I was single at the time.
P: Living on campus?
A: Living on campus.
P: What dorm?
A: Murphree, right on University Avenue. That was where my permanent place was.
P: Were you in a fraternity?
A: Sigma Chi, right across the street.
P: [Did you] have a good time? You were enjoying life?
A: I enjoyed life.
P: You had a car?
A: I had a car, all the good stuff.
P: And you were traipsing on the weekend back to Green Cove Springs?
A: I would go to Green Cove Springs and/or Jacksonville. See, all my buddies were
from Jacksonville and I would go stay with them, or they would come stay with me
in Green Cove Springs. They all liked Green Cove because they used to come down
there and we had all these boats. I feel I was a river-oriented kid.
P: So you do your undergraduate work [and] then go into law school. How long was
the program in law school then?
A: I said I took these tests [with] this roommate I had. I went through them; there was
about twenty hours of testing, and then they interviewed me. They said I already was
a junior in engineering from my math ability. There is only one thing I can
remember--a chart with a line he had like this that showed peaks. Then there was
this one that went way below the line, and that was law way down there.
P: Which said you should avoid that.
A: I should avoid that. I thought I was going to avoid it, and then I was registering
after I got my associate of arts degree. I finished after three semesters. My brother
was there, and I said, "I do not know in what I want to major." I thought I was
probably going to go into business, some kind of business course. And I did well in
all accounting courses. In fact, I made B's in them.
He said, "If you want to get the most out of your education and the GI Bill, you
should go to law school." I said, "Well, I do not think I can." First, there were these
[tests]. He said, "That is hogwash. You can do and be anything you want to be. All
you are going to have to do is work."
P: That was a dirty four-letter word in your vocabulary. [Laughter]
A: Well, you have to remember my brother was a straight-A student.
P: And your mother is pushing you.
A: And my mother [is] nudging. So I just said, "Okay, I am going to do it." I just
walked over and signed up for law school just like I knew what I was doing.
P: And they did not ask you any questions?
A: Never any questions.
P: Well, you had a tolerable record in law school.
A: The way I look at it, there were 150 or so that started, and I thought there were only
about thirty-two of us that finished. I understand, however, that administratively they
kept more like forty.
P: But the advice of Fenn was true.
A: Somehow I got through it, and I worked hard. When you are talking about courses
I have forgotten, it was like I did nothing but take a number two pencil and mark
[the paper]. Then I went to law school and they required that I write an answer,
respond in writing to something, and that really threw me. That threw me big time.
I just had to overcome that, and, modest though it may seem, I have some dyslexic
P: So you get out of law school.
A: I got out of law school, went to Jacksonville ...
P: ... with your brother ...
A: ... and Donald Gibson.
P: And how much did they pay you?
A: Of course, nothing. I was still single. My brother was married and had two children,
and Donald Gibson was married and had two children.
P: So you were the low man on the totem pole.
A: You have to remember I had saved about $3,000 or so in the army and that had
financed the whole deal to get it going.
P: Buying the furniture, renting ...
A: Furniture, renting, and everything else. I had sold my car after I got over there, and
they were saying, "How are we going to work it?" [My brother said,] "Don and I are
going to split the money, but you are going to eat Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
with me, and Tuesday and Saturday with Don."
P: That is called the barter system.
A: I went along with this, and then my father was up in Highland Park, [Illinois]. I can
remember talking to him about this over the phone and he was not given to liking
[situations] like [these]. He said, "That does not sound right to me." He said,
"Listen, if you want a job, you have got enough accounting background, and you have
already taken some accounting courses. I will give you a job up here."
P: Did you like being a lawyer even for that short time?
A: That is a good question, Sam. 1 liked being a lawyer, because that is really what I
do now if I can put it that way. It is just narrowing the field.
While I was in Jacksonville, the first thing that happened was all of my buddies who
had not gone to college, who I went around with in high school, [and who] had gone
out driving bread trucks, etc.--they had been married four or five years, had kids,
[and] they wanted divorces. That is the type of client that was coming to see me.
[They said,] "Of course Austin, you know I do not have any money, but we are old
buddies, and you will get me a divorce for nothing."
Then [there was] court-appointed work. Some guy had just gotten out of the federal
penitentiary, and [he] held a bag up to [one of the clerks behind] the window in the
main post office, in the little cage where they sell stamps and demanded [money].
It was a hold-up. He was a three-time loser and they stuck him [with me] as the
P: You were his defense lawyer. [Laughter]
A: He looked at me. He knew more about what was going on than I ever did. He
knew he was going to jail for the rest of his life. He said, "You know, I could kill
you, and they could not do anything more to me than they are going to do anyway."
And I moved toward the door,
P: I was going to say, that is a great client to have. [Laughter]
A: Well, you learn from situations like that. I think I made about five dollars a week.
I tell it humorously.
P: So you lost your $3,000.
A: I lost all my money and then some. And overlying that, I had met my wife [in
Gainesville] and she was down in West Palm teaching. In fact, she was teaching
school in Palm Beach.
P: So you were ready to get married.
A: We graduated together. The deal was that I would go to Jacksonville and practice
law, and as soon as I got my feet on the ground we would get married. (This is the
way I tell it, anyway.) Well, I was not in Jacksonville a week and she was saying,
"Are your feet on the ground?" [Laughter]
P: Just about.
A: My father knew this, and that is when he offered me a job that would allow me to
P: So you went up to Illinois.
A: I went up there.
P: That was the end of your law career.
A: My law career ended just like that. That was in the fall. I got married November
P: And you go up to Illinois to work for your father?
A: Yes. And I had a job. I started out as a salesman, but that did not last very long.
I was not a salesman, Sam, and my father became aware of that. I started being the
P: And you liked that.
A: I liked that. I zeroed right in on it and I implemented all kinds of management
controls in that business.
P: How much did your dad pay you?
A: Well, I think he was paying me $125 a week.
P: Which was a lot more than you were getting in Jacksonville.
A: You are not kidding.
P: And [was] your wife working up there too?
A: It was interesting. She did not work at first, and she did not have anything to do.
P: No kids yet.
A: No kids yet, and she did not know anybody. So she said, "Well, I think I am going
to try to get a job in teaching or something like that." Then she saw this ad in the
paper about a nursery school that was there. They had twenty acres out at a place
called Half Day, which was a town.
P: Half Day is the name of a town?
A: It was outside of Deerfield, and not too far from Highland Park. It used to be a
half-day horse and buggy ride to Chicago from there. She responded to this ad, and
we went out there and looked at the place. It was really neat. They had a summer
camp, and he had a school for preschool kids in the winter. He had a house out
there. It was not really big. It had one bedroom, but it was a nice house where his
daughter used to live. He let us live there.
P: So you had a house and your wife got a job.
A: She got a job. She ran the [preschool].
P: And you had a job.
A: And I had a job. So we were doing real well. We saved a lot of money there.
P: So the Austins are living well again.
A: The Austins are going well again, and that is how I got into accounting school.
P: Before you do that, tell me the name of your wife.
A: Carolyn. Our daughter is Caroline.
P: Okay. Her maiden name?
P: Does she have a middle name?
A: Yes, May.
A: She does not like to use that.
P: So it is Carolyn May Burkett, and now she is Carolyn May Austin.
A: She goes by Carolyn B. Austin.
P: Tell me about her birthdate.
A: Her birthday is November 25, 1930.
P: She is two years younger than you.
A: Two years younger than I am.
P: And where was she born and raised?
A: She was born in Miami [and] raised in West Palm.
P: And she went to the University of Florida after graduating from West Palm High
A: She went to West Palm High School, and then Mary Washington [College] in
Virginia for two years. [Then she] transferred to the University of Florida.
P: Mary Washington is what kind of a school?
A: It is at Fredericksburg, Virginia.
P: It is a strong, solid, liberal arts college.
A: There are a lot of them up there.
P: Yes. Then she transfers.
A: To Florida. She has very fond memories of [the University].
P: But she transfers to the College of Education on campus?
A: To the College of Education on campus. And when she first came here, they had
the dormitory for girls. Do you remember that? There was a dormitory there.
P: Grove Hall.
A: Grove Hall. That is exactly right. I had forgotten about that hall. She was one of
the first [women] in Grove Hall. They did not have sororities at Mary Washington.
She was rushed by Alpha Delta Pi, and she became an ADPi. [She] actually ended
up being the president.
P: So she got her degree in education?
A: In education, [and graduated] the same time that I [did].
P: And then she goes down to Miami to teach.
A: West Palm.
P: And she was teaching elementary school?
A: Elementary school in Palm Beach.
P: What was her major here?
A: Elementary education.
P: Now give me the names and birthdates of your children.
A: Okay. Keith C. Austin, Jr., is thirty-eight and he was born in Highland Park June
17, 1955. That would make him how old?
P: That would make him thirty-nine, would it not?
A: He will be thirty-nine.
P: All right. His birthday is next week or so and he will be thirty-nine years old. Is he
A: He is married and he has two boys. K.C. Austin, III, who is ten. [His second child]
will be one-year old on the July 7.
P: What is his name?
A: Scott Culver Austin. You know the military school up in Indiana? Well, my wife's
grandmother was a Culver. I did not know that. But we are going this summer up
in that area. She has been contacted recently [by] one of her relatives doing
genealogy. This has also happened to me. I have a cousin in Niagara Falls who
retired and he is fooling around with genealogy.
P: So it sounds to me like you are keeping that Keith Austin name alive.
A: We are keeping that name alive.
P: Alright. Go to child number two.
A: Our daughter, Caroline. We changed the name from Carolyn to Caroline Elizabeth
Austin. And she is sort of named after [her] mother, but with a slight change. She
is known as Beth.
P: And what is her birthday?
A: She is eight years younger than her brother. She just turned thirty. She was born
November 17, 1963.
P: So she will have a birthday coming up and she will be thirty-one years old?
A: Yes. She has a boy.
P: She is married then?
A: She is married to Thomas Marion Willingham III.
P: Boy, that is a name.
A: Yes. They are from Macon, [Georgia], but they live in Atlanta.
P: That sounds like an old southern family.
A: [It] is an old southern [family]. She went to Converse College and he went to
Wofford [College]. [Both colleges are private and located in Spartanburg, South
We visited a lot of places, but when I got to Converse, I said, "Daddies like
P: So you stopped at the two children?
A: [We] stopped at two. I am glad. [Laughter]
P: [Laughter] You have paid all the wedding bills now?
A: Oh yes, that is over. All of that is behind.
P: And what is the name of the third grandchild?
A: Thomas Marion Willingham IV.
P: Oh, God. Boy, you really keep it in the family, do you not? Okay. Now, you are
working for your dad up in Highland [Park], Illinois. You are into accounting now
and finance, and things like that which you are enjoying. How long are you up
A: [We] stayed there until about April 1956.
P: You are not there really such a terribly long time. And yet you are doing well up
A: That is right. And what happened was, you could see that the automobile industry
was changing. It was getting tough. A fellow who had been in the business right
after the war sold out in 1952 or 1953 to retire. He had made that much money.
He came in and started talking to my father. We were not a big automobile agency,
[and] we moved about thirty cars a month. I liked it. I liked the feel of it. My
father was now reaching his sixties.
P: His health was still good?
A: Not so good. He had always worked. He knew nothing but work, work, work seven
days a week. Actually, I got to know my father very well [by] working with him. The
bottom line is--the guy bought the agency from my father. [My father] went back
to Jacksonville [and] bought a place on Pottsburg Creek.
P: I think it is Little Pottsburg Creek off Atlantic [and] Beach boulevards.
A: Yes. Spring Forest area. [He] had a Criscraft mahogany speedboat [with] red
leather. You may have been there.
P: I remember one time there was a firm picnic.
A: My father would have been dead, I think, when that happened.
P: I do not even remember where it was, except it was on a farm someplace.
A: Yes. Now, that was the place of my brother's second wife.
P: I just have a vague recollection of us doing it on a Sunday, and Sol having invited
A: I go that way to the beach once in a while, [and] I always try to figure out where the
hell you turn in, because I know they had about two or three miles along that
intracoastal right there.
Dr. Earl Roberts was a nice guy. In fact, when I went over to the home of Louis
Huntley, he went and got his aunt, who now is eighty-seven, to come over to have
dinner with us. I had not seen Mrs. Huntley (Eva's mother) in twenty years. I did
not know whether she would like me or not.
P: Who is this Dr. Roberts?
A: Well, that was the father of my brother's second wife. Anybody from old
Jacksonville Beach would know Dr. Earl Roberts. He was the first and only
physician down there for a long time.
P: So when your brother divorced his first wife, he married a Roberts, the daughter of
Dr. Earl Roberts.
A: Earlene. You have to remember, I get along with all of these people. I do not have
P: You do not have any problems at all.
A: They all like me.
P: They are not your wives, so you do not have to pay any alimony at all.
A: They were all really good-looking ladies, too. I do not know ... I always thought
I was the better looking one.
P: Now, your father comes back to Jacksonville. Do you follow him then, immediately?
A: Yes. The new owner wanted me to stay, but I realized that it would be different.
I do not even know how to explain it. I wanted to come back to Florida, and I had
some experiences up there with our certified public accountants. I would call them
and almost harass them trying to get information. I wanted them to tell me yes-
no-type answers, not, "we will study this, we will study that." I got where I would
slam the phone down. But I saw what they were doing in the tax area, doing taxes
and things like that. I kind of got into the scene. I was not selling anything, but I
could see how you could control a business by the numbers.
P: Well, you come back to Jacksonville. You did not see much of a future for yourself
A: That is right.
P: Alright, you come back to Jacksonville, [and] you make the decision to do what?
A: Well, I was talking to my father, since he was secure financially.
P: And he was retired?
A: And he was retired. [I was talking to my father] about opening an automobile
agency somewhere in Florida. I liked that business, and he sort of liked that. I had
saved some money. I had a new Mercury station wagon, and I came through
Gainesville, and it had always been in the back of my mind that maybe I should go
back to school. I would like that, and I would get an accounting degree. I stopped
and just walked in, and there was a brand new dean in the College of Business.
P: Was this Hart?
A: Dean [Donald John] Hart, [Ph.D., dean of the College of Business Administration,
P: Donald Hart. He succeeded Walter Matherly [Dean of the College of Business
A: I went in and chatted with him about getting into the accounting school and how
long it would take me. I think I had some of the catalogs. I figured out if I do it
this way, I could spend a year here going to school and get my accounting degree.
[I would] be qualified to take the C.P.A. exam.
P: Did Hart encourage you?
A: He did not discourage me. He said I had to go down and talk to [James Samuel]
Lanham [Head of Accounting Department in 1960]. I cannot believe I have
forgotten him. He was head of the accounting department. He said, "If he will let
you do it, it is okay with me."
So I went down and talked to him, and I showed him. I can remember this. I said,
"Okay, I can do it if you let me start in June." We had two summer sessions, the A
and B thing. We were still on the semester basis. I had worked out all of these
accounting courses so I could take them all, and I had all this law. I had some good
The first thing he said to me for the summer school [was], "You cannot possibly do
this." (I had listed three accounting courses, and they were the three toughest
accounting classes.) I said, "Okay, why?" He said, "Well, really, you would not get
any sleep." You had to go to class everyday. He said, "You cannot do the
homework and get back to class the next day for these three courses. We just do
not let students do this."
We talked about it some more. I had figured it pretty good, and this was the only
way I could come here for a year. My wife and I had talked about this as a backup
plan. If I could not find [work I liked], maybe I would go back to school for a year
and get this accounting degree, because I really had gotten into it up there.
P: Did she figure she could get a job here if you did that?
A: We had, of course, Keith Jr.
P: But you had a little money.
A: We had a little money. I figured it out where we could live on $350 or $400 a
month--[there was] no GI Bill or anything like that. It was our money. I sold the
car and got another. We had two cars, but one was a used car [in which] she drove
around. We had a new car, a station wagon. I sold it for about $3,000 and left Palm
Beach. [It was] brand new, ec eiN. ailing on it you possibly wanted. With that, I knew
I was going to come back to school. I kind of fascinated Lanham, to be honest with
you. I do not know why. It was not because of any funny thing.
P: No, but it was the fact you wanted to take three courses.
A: He looked at [my plan] and said, "Well, you are going to have to go longer than a
year." I said, "There is no way I am going to go longer than a year." Then I said,
"Well, now, let me ask you something. What do you have to lose by letting me try?"
He said, "Well ." Then he passed it back to Dean Hart. He said, "Well, if he will
let you do it, I will let you do it." So I said, "Okay."
A: He said it was okay with him. Well, I went back to Dean Hart, and [he told me] I
was the first guy [to do this]. I said, "He said it was okay if you said it was okay."
P: Passing the buck back and forth.
A: And he said, "I am new here too. To be honest with you, you are the very first guy
I am admitting to this school." I said, "Well, Dean, that is great. We will see what
happens. I hope I do not embarrass you." And I was on a mission, you might say.
So I worked hard, and he was almost right. I would go home--fast!--and I had my
little work area. I would go in there, and here was Keith Jr. wanting to play.
P: Wanting you to play with him.
A: "Daddy, do this." I mean, I would get that homework done. I have not really talked
about this to anybody. I would like to know how my wife felt about all of this.
P: She survived.
A: She survived.
P: Where did you live?
A: We lived over behind P.K. Yonge. It happened to be the place I lived my senior
year in law school. It was just an apartment on 7th Street over there. A lot of
married students were around there.
P: [It was] fairly close to the campus.
A: [It was] fairly close to the campus, but we had a car. It was kind of neat, really.
P: So were you able to do it in the summer semester?
A: I did. I did it within the year. The problem was that this budget that I had made
out was very rigid. The first thing that happened [was] we violated it by seventy-
five dollars the first month. I said, "Well, we will cut back." We violated it again
the next month.
P: You had to eat.
A: So, come that fall, I said, "I have to get a job, because our money just does not work
out." I started going around town. I had gotten through summer school, I did that,
and I made straight A's. Sam, I was not that smart. This was just sheer [hard work].
I knew I had to get knowledge to take that exam. I was driven. I was going to do
what I had to do. I was there to learn. It was a whole different attitude.
P: Well, how did you get that job at the Sandwich Inn? You are looking for a job now.
A: I had been going around town and everybody [was] saying, "Well, we do not really
need [help]." And I would go in and get a cup of coffee [at the Sandwich Inn].
There was an A&P store that just opened across the street from it. The city now has
P: I know the building.
A: I am sitting in the Sandwich Inn. 1 did not know his name at the time, but the man
who owned it was Clyde English. He came out of the back [with] an apron on and
picked up the phone.
P: I think he had worked at the Primrose or something before he took over the
A: That is where I went on my first date with my wife. Anyway, I will tell you about
that. He said, "I have to pay these people today, and you send somebody down here
to make out that payroll." That got my attention right away. He slammed the phone
down. I said, "Mister, are you looking for somebody to make out that payroll? I
know how to do that. I will do it for you." Well, I went back in the back room, and
he hired me on the spot. For ten bucks I made out his payroll.
Now, my wife can make this funny. I went back home with that $10. Now, Keith
was not very old, maybe less than two, in that range. We came back down that
afternoon, and we spent the whole Saturday afternoon going around that A&PT
store with a cart. We spent precisely ten dollars. We spent the whole afternoon in
there putting things back and getting things. I was monitoring exactly the precise
[amount]. This was to celebrate. But we ended up doing it every week for a long
P: So you had fun.
A: We had fun. That was the most fun you can have on ten dollars that I know of and
still get something for it. Then, I did that for about a month, and a man walked in
one Saturday morning when I was making out the payroll and said, "Mr. English has
been telling me about you." This was Malcolm Alday. Do you know Mr. Alday?
[He] had a produce company behind the Sandwich Park (J.M. Alday Produce, Inc.).
P: Almost next door to you.
A: Really next door.
P: Right on the other side of the railroad track.
A: So I started going down there a couple of afternoons a week.
P: How much did he pay you?
A: Well, he paid better because I was getting a little more confident about it by then.
It was fair; it was not very much. He might have paid me twenty dollars. But I went
in there two afternoons a week and did his books. All that led to other work. There
was Helzel Heating and Air Conditioning. Somehow or other a fellow put me on
to that, and I went down there. The next thing I know, I am going down there one
afternoon a week. (I am vague about these [things] because I cannot quite
remember.) But I was doing the financial statements.
P: [In the] meantime, are you going to school?
A: [I was] still going to school.
P: So you had a double load.
A: I [had] a double load, but it was okay because somehow or another it did not seem
like it was a double load.
P: And the money situation is a little better.
A: The money situation got better. The next thing I knew, all this [had happened] by
the time this year was up. I had standing offers from all of the Big Eight accounting
P: Now, did you get the degree at the end of the year?
A: I graduated at the end of the year.
P: It was 1958?
A: No, in June 1957 I got the accounting degree. They should have given me high
honors, except they did not because I transferred [credits]. Dr. Lanham told me that.
He then told me that he was impressed, and I again said, "Listen, I am here on a
mission. You are used to dealing with these kids." He said, "Well, if you do not
want to take one of these jobs .."
P: You had had several job offers?
A: Oh, any of them. I was already admitted to the bar, a lawyer; I was going to be a
P: But you had not taken the C.P.A. [exam] yet.
A: I had not taken the exam yet.
P: But they knew that you could pass it.
A: They knew I could pass it because 1 was one of the top students. He said, "I am
going to offer you a teaching assistantship or [make you] an interim instructor and
let you do some more work." That was attractive to me because I was almost going
to have to [either] go to work for somebody for a year to qualify for the C.P.A.
certificate or stay in school for a year. I said, "Well, will that enable me to stay and
meet this qualification?" And it would. So he offered me a job as an interim
P: So you become, then, part of the faculty?
A: I became part of the faculty and stayed in that status for two or three years. That
enabled me to do what I did. In fact, to be honest with you these jobs [were offering
me] $400 a month, which apparently at that time was a reasonably good offer. I can
remember going home to my wife and saying, "To be honest with you, I am making
that much here in town. And here he is offering me a job that is going to pay me
about $300 a month. Do you like Gainesville?" [We both said,] "Well, let us see
what happens." We stayed in that status for a couple of years.
P: You held the rank of what?
A: Interim instructor or something like that.
P: It was obviously not a tenure-track position.
A: I was half-business law. I taught business law. One of the students I taught now
heads that up. He asked me for an exam, if I had ever kept an exam I had given
them. It was what was known as a Maloney-type exam when I was in law school.
P: Frank Maloney [Dean of the College of Law, 1958-1970].
A: I mean to tell you, those were exams. Well, I made up this exam.
P: So you made the decision to stay.
A: But I went to Dean Hart after about two or three years, about 1960. I got my C.P.A.
certificate in 1959 in the spring.
P: No problem?
A: No problem. [Leo] L.T. Hury and I. That is how I met L.T. He was the state
auditor here. You probably know L.T. We called one another up. We were the
only two from Gainesville that passed it at that time. The first time I took it I
almost passed it.
P: You could take it in parts in those years, too?
A: Well, you had to pass two parts. I made the highest grade possible without passing
it, and I did pass one part of it, but that was not enough. I had to take it over again.
The second time I took it, I passed. The reason I had problems with it was not lack
of knowledge. Sam, I never went to bed. I stayed up. It was a physically rough
P: So you finally passed it 1958 or 1959?
A: The spring of 1959. I took it in the fall of 1958 and the spring of 1959.
P: You are then teaching on the faculty, and you are teaching business law?
A: Half time in the business law department and half time in the accounting
P: How large was the business administration college at the time? It was one of the
A: It did not really start getting big until after that time.
P: Accounting, though, was a thriving program.
A: Kids were generally scared of accounting. It was too hard.
P: Now, [J. Wayne] Reitz [president, University of Florida, 1955-1967] is president, and
Hart is the dean.
A: Hart is the dean. He left to go somewhere else.
P: [University of] North Carolina [at Chapel Hill].
A: And the assistant dean back then was [John Berry] McFerrin [professor of finance,
director of graduate studies in business administration, appointed 1957]. [He was
a] neat guy. He helped me immeasurably because I had really no contact with him,
but he came up to me one time in the hall and said, "You are doing something
unusual around here. I will help you."
P: [He was] a very nice person.
A: I needed that kind of support. I never really asked for anything, I was just there.
I did not have any ambitions about being [a tenured faculty member].
P: Did you ever get a faculty rank, or did you ever get tenure?
A: Interim instructor. No, nothing like that.
P: So you were always in that sort of halfway situation?
A: Yes. Because I was also taking courses.
P: Oh, you were also working the graduate program?
A: I went all the way through the graduate program working toward a master of arts
(M.A.) degree in accounting.
P: When did that come?
A: I did not get it, and there is a story behind that. Harvey [T.] Deinzer [professor of
accounting, appointed 1949] taught tax, and he also had a law degree. He went to
law school after I did. He was my chairman and I chose him because he gave very
few A's and I made an A from him in tax. That got a lot of attention.
P: This is tax in the College of Business, not tax law?
A: Yes. He was tough, but I liked him and he liked me. We used to play golf together.
My thesis presently sits in my desk. I did all of the course work.
P: Why did you not get the degree?
A: I went to Dean Hart and said, "Dean, I want to open an office." He said, "I cannot
let you do that. You are not going to be able to teach." Well, I was paying the
[bills] and everything, but I was building a business. I was getting better and better,
and I wanted to open an office. So if I wanted to be an academician, which I am
not, I had to [make a decision]. It was another crossroads.
P: You had to make a decision.
A: I made the decision to go out on my own, now. He contacted me after that and said,
"We have another program where we need teachers out of town." For two years, I
taught accounting courses three nights a week--Monday, Wednesday, and Friday--
over at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station.
P: So you had to commute over there.
A: And what I would do [is] work all day, and it was from seven to ten [o'clock], three
hours. These were not young students, these were mature people who were taking
accounting under this program. I forget what it was called. But a little after five,
I would get in my car Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and I would fly to the naval
air station in Jacksonville. [I would] teach the course, get in my car, [and] drive
home. I would come in the house about midnight, sit down, and my wife would
have dinner ready. We would sit down and say, "How was your day?" You know,
it went like that. I think about that. There is no way I could do that now.
P: Now, you are teaching over in Jacksonville three nights a week, you are going to
A: I am out of school, but I have my practice. It was right there where Donagan's
Clothing Store was. I was right next door to him.
P: And you are carrying those local clients like the Sandwich Inn and Helzal.
A: By that time I was building a tax [business]. I learned early on that my expertise was
in the area of taxation.
P: Did Gainesville need another accountant?
A: Gainesville really needed another. We had only Purvis, Gray [& Company], and Mr.
Purvis really wanted me to join him.
P: That was a big time operation down there.
A: [It was] a big time operation, but they were auditors. They did tax and they did
bookkeeping. Now, I made up my mind I was not going to do bookkeeping. I used
to play golf with Mr. Purvis. [He was] a neat guy. He helped me a lot, believe it
P: Was Earl Powers [class of 1938, 1941] in that?
P: Because it was Earl who had a career, too, on campus.
A: That is right.
P: And Ned Scott had been in that firm.
A: I knew Ned well. It is just again back to this thing--I did not want to work for
P: So you opened your own office.
A: I opened my own office.
P: Was business good right from the start?
A: Right from the start.
P: So you began building up a lot of clients?
A: And as the city started to expand ..
P: ... there was great growth in the 1950s and 1960s in Gainesville. Now you have a
continuing relationship with the University of Florida, do you not, particularly with
the College of Business and the School of Accounting?
A: I would never do anything but help them.
P: When they began thinking about the School of Accounting, did they come to you for
counsel and advice?
A: I used to talk to Dean [Robert Franklin] Lanzillotti [dean of the College of Business
Administration, 1969-1986] about that, and I used to chide him about going to Ed
Ball. See, by that time I was on the board of the Florida National Bank. This would
be in the early 1960s, 1962,
P: That was a fast move, was it not? I mean, a young accountant, just coming out,
relatively new, starting up an office, [and] being invited to join a bank board?
A: Some of the businessmen who were on [the board] were clients of mine. That is how
I got the [position]. They needed somebody who would think like I do, I guess.
They also needed lawyers.
P: It was not because of your money or power?
A: That is right. Mr. Purvis was on the [bank board] of the main competitor.
P: I see.
A: That probably had something to do with it. But, anyway, to get on that board I had
to go spend an afternoon with Mr. Ball in Jacksonville. [This was about] 1964, 1965,
[when] that happened. He had such control. Here [was] a bank in Gainesville. If
someone was going to be on the board, he wanted to know all about what kind of
a board member [you would be]. You would not get that today. You just do not
have management that far reaching.
P: You went to his office in Jacksonville?
A: I went to his office, and it was very plain, simple, straightforward--elegant.
P: Where was the office? He lived in the hotel.
A: Yes, I know that. What is that park? Hemming Park. I guess it was the Florida
National Bank building then, because they have changed that around.
P: So much that I am not sure of it either.
A: But here was the bank building there, because we looked right down on Hemming
Park, and we were maybe on the third floor or something.
P: So you had an appointment with him, and you went to Jacksonville, and you met
him. Tell me about Ed Ball and your experiences with him.
A: When I went in to talk to him, he ignored me. I sat there, and he was on the phone
talking. So I got up and I walked around his office looking at his memorabilia and
he had something up there that I got to looking at. It seemed like nothing, but he
was more proud of it than anything. It had to do with Ireland, a little plaque from
Ireland or somewhere he had been, and they had given him this thing. He never did
explain that in detail, but we talked about everything.
P: So he gets off the phone?
A: Right. And in the meantime, I am walking around the room. I was getting a little
miffed because I had been there thirty minutes or more without him even
acknowledging my existence, [and] I thought he was playing games with me.
P: He probably was.
A: But we [started] talking.
P: He put down the phone.
A: He put down the phone, and then ...
P: ... introduces himself.
A: Well, not really. He just said, "You are Austin."
P: "Am I?" [Laughter]
A: [Laughter] And we talked about everything you could talk about, and I enjoyed it.
P: Was he cordial?
A: Cordial as could be. In fact, 1 stayed there long enough [that] he may have wanted
me to stay and go to dinner with him. I think he did things like that. But I had to
get back to Gainesville, and [when] I think back on that I should have. But I got
P: You touched history.
A: Yes. He told me something about going over to Florida State University to give
them some money. This stuck in my mind big time, and this is [why] I am telling
you this, because this is about Dean Lanzillotti, with what happened subsequent to
that. That always stuck in my mind. He went over there, to FSU, and gave them
$5000, and they wanted him to come over. He was going to give money. (He was
very emphatic about this.)
He drove over there with a chauffeur and he told them that he could not stay there
longer than thirty minutes because he had to turn around and come right home.
They were giving him a plaque of some kind which he did not have on his wall or
anything. Well, they kept him there two hours. [Getting back] to Jacksonville was
very important, and he had the chauffeur exceed the speed limit. He got arrested
by a Florida State Highway Patrolman. In his way of reasoning--the Free-Shoes
University owed him this ticket. [Laughter] I think it was not twenty-five dollars.
But he sent it over there. I mean, he was a man of principle.
P: Particularly if it was his money that was being jeopardized.
A: Well, he made a big deal of it that he only made one dollar a year. He would tell
anybody that. He sent that over there and they sent it back to him saying they could
not possibly pay his fine for speeding. I was telling Dean Lanzillotti that I wanted
him to go over there and get an audience with Mr. Ball and induce him to give a lot
of money to the University and name the college the Ball College of Business.
I do not know whether the dean will remember that, but he might after I refresh his
memory, because he would come to my office. In fact, he came to my office when
he said he was going over there, but there was always a reason [he could not go].
I am sure it was a legitimate reason because the dean was very good. I felt very
confident when he went over there. But, with Mr. Ball, it was either oil and water,
or you were accepted.
P: It was either one way or the other.
A: One way or the other, right now. Being around him, you could tell he was like that.
He made up his mind, you were either okay or you were not. You were [with
brogue] for 'im or ag'in 'im.
P: Keith, I want to talk to you about the School of Accounting.
A: Well, we are leading up to that.
P: Go ahead. I will wait for you.
A: This is how the School of Accounting, as I, in talking to Dean Lanzillotti, [came
about]. We got onto an idea. 1 was telling him that the law school knows how to
do it--raise money--and that he needs to get a group of former students from all of
the different departments in the college to come together. And he did, he wrote all
these letters to get all these fellows to come talk about what they can do for the
school. The alumni said this is the greatest state in the world. You have it all over
the place. I still believe this right now. They do not need the damn legislature.
They could run this whole shebang with financing from the alumni.
P: Yes. There is plenty of money out there.
A: And I always felt that. Anyway, he wrote all the alumni inviting them to come to
a meeting at the College of Business in his office. I remember making up my mind
to go even though it was during my busy time, the spring of 1975, 1974, or sometime
back then. I was not the driving force or anything like that. Al Warrington was the
fellow who picked up the ball. 1 would not have been able to do what he did.
Without him, it would not have happened.
P: Well, who came up with the concept? You are talking about raising the money for
it. Who first brought the idea of having a separate school of accounting? Where
you in part of that?
A: I was in part of that in this way, and that is what I am [going to tell you]. We had
this meeting [and] there were supposed to be former students from all [the
specialties]. He had asked about eighty individuals.
P: This is for general funding for the College of Business then, not [the] School of
Accounting by itself?
A: Right. But each department [was] going to do something. At this meeting four
alumni show up, all accountants: Al Warrington, Fred Edenfield, Bob Ellison, and
myself, and then Dean Lanzillotti. And we sat there for an hour and watched it
raining from the conference room windows.
P: The other seventy-five did not show.
A: Nobody else showed. I can remember the Dean saying, "Well, I guess nobody is
coming. But it is very interesting that only the School of Accounting has anybody
here." So we sat there at his conference table, and somehow or another information
was disseminated that there is a free-standing school of accounting. (I do not how
I know this, but it came up. I do not know who provided this [information]. It
must have been the dean.) Well, I said, "You know, I have always visualized a
school of accounting. If there is anything that I think is wrong with this place, it is
what I got out of law school."
You notice how freely I can remember fellows I went to law school with. We fought
the common fight. There is something about this, going through this thing together,
and even though I do not practice law, I get calls. In the last thirty days, [I have
had] classmates who I went to law school with referring business to me. This has
happened as long as I can remember. The accounting was not that way.
P: They did not have that kind of collegiality.
A: Right. You would sit with other students and say, "Well, you are not even an
accounting major, and you have to take all of these, what I call 'personality
development' courses." Even economics I throw in that category. I did not see why
we could not [do that].
Remember, I had been practicing awhile, and so had all of these fellows. Ellison
headed up Coopers and Lybrand, a Big Eight firm. Al Warrington was Arthur
Andersen's top guy. Fred Edenfield had a large individual accounting practice in
the Naples-Fort Myers area. 1 was just a sole practitioner here in Gainesville.
(These were heads of the [Florida firms], not the worldwide firm.) We kicked it
around and I was trying to impose the law school concept.
P: Which would have been a freestanding operation.
A: Freestanding school, and you get there just the way you get to law school. The big,
main objection was, "Well, we need to have all these other courses."
P: Were you running into some conflict at this meeting?
A: Well, no. The alumni liked the idea, and Dean Lanzillotti added fuel to it by saying
Utah [University of Utah, Salt Lake Cityl, or someplace like that, had a school of
P: Iowa [University of Iowa, Iowa City], I think it is.
A: Somewhere out there. That is what gave it credibility.
P: One of the Big Ten schools.
A: I do not want to even take credit for the idea, because I am not sure [it was mine].
P: But you were participating in where the concept first develops.
A: I was involved in that. The minute they started talking about that, that is what I
wanted. Now, this is where we met about this. Of course, one of the things we
wanted [was] a [building] of our own. We got around to that. That is where Al
Warrington came in, raising a lot of money.
P: To stop here, I notice in the notes that a study committee was set up in June of
1975, a ten-member committee, five faculty and five accountants. Were you one of
P: Along with Al Warrington and the others you mentioned?
A: Fred Edenfield.
P: And Bob Ellison.
A: And I do not know who else was there, but we did things. We met with President
Robert Q. Marston [president, University of Florida, 1974-1984].
P: Marston was now president. He has succeeded Steve [Stephen C.] O'Connell
[president, University of Florida, 1968-1974].
A: We met with him, and in the meantime, we went out to all the big firms, [and]
tapped all the sources of money. I do not know how this happened.
P: But we are not quite ready there. 1 notice that this is a study committee and you
are coming up with the recommendation that there should be a freestanding school.
A: That is right.
P: The faculty and the five accountants. How does Lanzillotti react to this, because you
are recommending a separate dean?
A: Right. I was always the guy out of step.
P: Did you want the separate dean?
A: I said it would not fly without a separate dean. The other hurdle was getting Bob
[Robert Armistead] Bryan [vice president for Academic Affairs; president, University
of Florida, 1989-1990] to authorize it.
P: But it seems to me that, the separate dean, is the thing that would have soured it as
far as Lanzillotti was concerned. He did not like to lose power.
A: That was the basis of the whole problem. We were meeting at night because
everyone had to get back to work. We had met all that day. At night they were
going to leave to go back. We had dinner and came back, and Bob Ellison took me
out of the conference room, went into the office of the dean, and just told me the
way it had to be.
I had not changed my mind. I could not see how we could have an economist as
dean of the School of Accounting. Now, 1 said that as simple and straightforward
as I could make it. Then lie said, "Listen, we all want to get to the same place you
are talking about, but you cannot just [make it happen]. This thing is not going to
fly. You realize what you are saying? The power base is not going to happen unless
Dean Lanzillotti is the dean of both."
P: Yes. Tigert Hall would not have supported the separate dean if Lanzillotti had been
opposed to it.
A: We had to have him, and there was a lot of coercing him in a nice way. Without
Ellison, Warrington, and Fred Edenfield, using the influence they had on a statewide
basis, it would not have happened.
P: Now I understand once that compromise was made and it was agreed that you would
share the dean, that there would be a separate director of the school, but one dean
for accounting and business. Lanzillotti went along with it and says, "Now we need
A: Then we wanted a separate building to house the [school].
A: And there was a program at that time, a matching program. This is when we met
with Marston and he said he would support it. At that meeting, Bob Bryan was on
one side, and Bill Elmore on the other. Dr. Marston is a fine fellow, as far as I am
concerned. He said, "Well, I am going to tell you what it is going to take. You have
to raise a million dollars."
Al Warrington drew back and said, "Would you mind if we have a break here and
we go out in the hall?" We went out in the hall and all looked at each other. Al
said, "Did you hear what he said?" [Laughter] I said, "I sure did." He said, "I nearly
fell over. We already have the million dollars." See, that is what Al Warrington had
P: Why had he gotten the money ahead of time?
A: Well, he got it because we already had it. He had commitments for it.
P: Because Lanzillotti had said earlier you would have to raise the money, and it sounds
to me now like Marston is merely backing Lanzillotti.
A: I did not know that, but I knew that we had the million dollars and Marston was
throwing it out there like it was a hurdle.
P: A real challenge.
A: That is why Al Warrington said, "We already have it. What do we do now?" The
guy caught me off guard. I was thinking we were going to have to argue about a lot
of things, like a couple more million dollars before we could move.
P: So Warrington is just bringing you up to date.
A: That is right. As far as I was concerned, we were off and running.
P: Well, you had the money and you had met every one of the requirements that the
University had set forth. Obviously, when they asked you to raise a million dollars,
they did not think you were going to be able to do it.
A: I think Bob Bryan felt that would put it to sleep, too. I was the one who went to
get his approval, to talk to him, to present our case. I kid him about this. I was not
there five minutes and we were yelling at one another.
P: From where was he coming?
A: Well, here he is administering all of these schools and colleges and somebody else
wanted to add another headache to his menu.
P: Was he afraid that other programs [would follow suit]?
A: He thought it was just a common problem that everybody would want to be doing
P: Yes. Everybody would now want a school or a separate agency.
A: My attitude was, "Now listen, you fellows said if we raised a million dollars, we do
this, we do that--whatever. We have done it all--now you put up."
P: And Bob Bryan let forth with some inflammatory words.
A: Being like he is--a milquetoast-type guy.
P: Yes. [Laughter] In the meantime, [was the] faculty, both in the department of
accounting and the entire faculty, for or against all of this? I am talking about
[Willard E.] Stone [professor of accounting, appointed 1960]. I am talking about
[Charles] Arnold Matthews [professor of finance and chairman, Department of
Finance and Insurance, appointed 1957]. 1 am talking about all of those folks, old-
A: I felt that they should be for it.
P: But were they?
A: I was beginning to get the idea that Dean Lanzillotti did not like what was
happening, because he could see bad things to his empire.
P: Even though he was going to be tile dean?
A: Even though he was going to be the dean, because he agreed to be the dean for
maybe two or three years. It was a limited time. I think I was demanding that it
could be reviewed. The thing that they ended up doing was a six-year experimental
thing. He came to my office after it was going about three years. It had something
to do with the school, but he came in and we were sitting there.
P: This is Lanzillotti?
A: Lanzillotti. And I caught him off guard. I like the guy. I play golf with him. I still
do. I just said, "By the way, Dean, how are we doing at the school?" He said, "It
is not going very well." 1 said, "Do you mean that it is not going to work?" He said,
"I do not think it is going to work." I said, "Then, you should immediately resign as
dean, because here it is not even halfway through the trial period and you are
already putting it in the grave."
P: [He was] already predicting failure.
A: I said, "Anybody with that kind of attitude around here, I would fire in a heartbeat
with no qualms. I would just brush them aside like that and away we would go."
I said, "You cannot have an attitude like that--it is not going to fly."
P: How did he react to that strong statement?
A: He was normal. He is a very astute [person]. We were great to have Dean
P: He was not ready to resign, though?
A: He was not ready to resign; in fact, [he] did not resign.
P: No. Of course not.
A: I was the guy, living here in Gainesville, who was our liaison to the our construction
of the building. These guys are giving me the input about what their concepts were
and then I was meeting with the architects and things like that. [We had] meetings
in Matherly Hall [with a] full complement of people from Tallahassee. I always
wondered why all these people from the other departments in the College of
Business were attending these meetings and throwing in their two- cents worth. It
made me mad and I got up and said something. I forget the architect. (He was a
very important fellow from Tallahassee. He died not too long ago.) He said, "Who
is that guy?" I leaned over and said, "I am the guy that represents all the money
making this thing fly." He said, "Oh. Okay, what do you want to say?" [Laughter]
P: You let him know exactly from where you were coming.
A: And I was getting kind of funny.
P: Were you and Al Warrington and these other people consulting on your own, outside
of the college? Conference calls?
A: We would meet. No conference calls. I do not remember much of that, but we
would meet here and at different places.
P: Now I noticed in going through the records that on June 13, 1977, the Regents
accept all of this. They agree that a school of accounting should be set up on an
experimental basis for six years, and this is after you have raised the million dollars.
You had put [your money] where your mouth was. You had come up with the
A: That is right.
P: Did you have anything to do with the hiring of John [K.] Simmons [Ph.D., C.P.A.,
professor of accounting and director Fisher School of Accounting, appointed 1974]
as the first director?
A: No. I like John Simmons and go to lunch with him periodically, and I think he was
sympathetic toward what 1 want to do. I think he kind of got tired of fighting the
bureaucratic [system]. He was the one fellow I thought might pull it off.
P: But you had nothing to do with bringing him here?
A: Other than meeting him and everything, no, I did not make any decisions about
anything like that.
P: Keith, what about your involvement in raising the million dollars?
A: I have to give the credit to Al Warrington. He carried the ball.
P: He did a lot of it, I know.
A: I am not a fundraiser. I have raised a lot of money for the University in a
professional way, but only when circumstance fits perfectly.
P: At this time, what kind of clientele did you have in your business?
A: Mostly I had a lot of doctors and those kinds of people.
P: Other faculty?
A: A lot of faculty.
P: Were you able to persuade any of these people, particularly corporations, to support
A: I do not remember. I could not do that professionally. If I was doing your taxes,
I know all about your finances, and then I suddenly turn to you and start [trying to
get you to donate money]. On the other hand, you have children and you have
accumulated a substantial amount of money and you might be worried about the
minute something happened to you. I am just giving you an instance where I get
involved in Unitrusts etc. I am a Gator supporter. [I have] helped people avoid
estate tax by doing something for the University. I have been involved in several of
P: So it was really left up to people like Al Warrington to go to Arthur Andersen and
organizations like that.
A: They got all of the Big Eight. 1 mean, they raised a bunch of money in a
P: ... short period of time. Okay, the program gets started. It has until about 1985,
I believe. It gets started in about 1979. Now, about halfway through that, you are
quoted in this article that you sent me as being a little bit critical of what had
A: Well, by that time what 1 envisioned--to have a law school be an accounting school,
[with] these students going through having the same experience being Florida
graduates, relying heavily on the financial support [the graduates give]--the
accounting school could do the same thing. In fact, to be honest with you, I went
and got the annual publication of the law school, what they send out, and I noticed
right after that that the College of Business cranked one out. I had given it to Dean
P: But the thing is, the School of Accounting was set up not necessarily to create people
who are going to be donors to the University, but to turn out first-class accountants.
A: That is right.
P: And they instituted a five-year program, is that what it is? What does the five-year
A: Well, that is a fifth year of accounting. They give them a special degree for it.
P: Almost a post-baccalaureate course?
P: Does this mean that a student comes to the University of Florida, enrolls in the
College of Business with a major in accounting, and at the end of four years that
person graduates with a bachelor of science degree, let us say, in accounting? Then
the extra year is for extra courses and extra programs?
A: They always had that. You could either go to work for a year for the experience,
or stay and do another year.
P: And you got a certificate or something to indicate that? Did that make you more
saleable in the marketplace?
A: Oh yes. It was graduate level work. All those courses never had more than five or
six students in each class.
P: But you thought it ought to be a seven-year program? What is that?
A: [Some people] were concerned that you were not getting enough. You had to have
all of these other courses. No problem at all. Let them go and get a four-year
P: And then come over.
A: Come over and just be an accountant.
P: Take four years in business and then three years in the School of Accounting.
A: That problem in the profession exists today, Sam. I have gone back and gotten a
master of science degree in tax law [L.L.M. (taxation)]. I was in that first class. This
is the way I explain it. Accountants go to accounting school and they tell them the
rules about taxes. I am not an auditor. We do what they call compilations and
financial statements and things like that. We do not do any certification for
anything. It gets complicated. We are tax people.
My partner, Jack Bovay, is a C.P.A. and a lawyer. He worked for Holland and
Knight. You wondered how I got hold of him. He wanted to come back and go
through the tax law program. He had been with Holland and Knight in their
Washington, [D.C.] office. He is from Lakeland, [Florida]. He had clerked down
there for Holland & Knight, so they knew about him. He worked for them for three
years in their foreign office in Washington, but he wanted to get a tax law degree
and he needed a job. I hired him for a year, and that was eleven years ago.
P: So he is still with you.
P: We will get back to the program.
A: Well, that is an example of what I am talking about. In the School of Accounting,
I take a tax course. They do not tell me anything other than you can deduct your
medical expenses. (I am using oversimplified [examples].) In law school, they tell
you [that] you can deduct your expenses or whatever applies, but they tell you why,
and you get it in depth. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat with a revenue
One time the guy had been with the revenue service over twenty years, and I am
arguing with him about something, and I could not communicate with him because
he was trying to tell me, "Well, black is black and white is white." I said, "Let me
ask you something. Do you know why that rule is the way it is?" He said, "No." I
said, "Let me explain it to you." I sat down. I felt like a teacher. In fact, I ended
up making speeches on this thing. 1 drew the things out and showed him precisely
why that was and why our client fit right into the spirit of the thing. He got up and
said, "You taught me something. 1 will never forget this." He said, "I am going to
go along with you." That is the difference.
P: Keith, I want to ask you a question. You are turning out, even with the five-year
program, good accountants.
A: Yes. Bob Ellison always felt they did not want to make it so tough that they could
not get anybody to come to the damn school. I thought, "Well it will work, [but] it
is all going to hinge on Dean Lanzillotti. He has his hands right on the breathing
P: He can squeeze it.
A: He can squeeze it and make anything happen. I was getting to where I was so
worked up over this, to be honest with you, frustrated, and I needed all of that like
a hole in the head. I was trying to keep my practice and everything going, and I
seemed to be a fifth wheel out here screaming and hollering about getting this thing
over. But, in retrospect, I look back on it sometimes now when you only remember
the good things, [and] I wish I had pushed harder, been more obnoxious.
P: To have gotten what you wanted.
A: Yes. And we would have had a top accounting school here.
P: The question I want to ask you here is, how would you compare the University of
Florida Fisher School of Accounting with other schools, let us say, in the southeast?
Does [University of North Carolina at] Chapel Hill have a major school? Georgia?
Where does Florida rank as you see it?
A: They are not bad.
P: They are not, but what about the University of Florida?
A: It is not bad.
P: Are we number one in the southeast? Number two?
A: I would want to review all of that.
P: You are standing on the outside now, and I know that this is not a final statement.
A: But remember, I want it to be the finest thing there is going.
P: I am saying, how does it compare in the terms of the kind of quality students that
we are turning out? Are they being hired by the best firms?
A: They are doing well on the C.P.A. exams and things like that.
P: Which is one of the ways of judging them.
A: When it comes down to hiring somebody, they are just like anybody else now. We
have hired them when they could not really write legibly.
P: So if somebody came to you from the University of Florida, you would not
necessarily give them any preferential treatment?
A: That is right.
P: And you have a better-qualified person from Chapel Hill, or Vanderbilt [Nashville,
Tennessee], you are going to give the job to that other person?
A: That is right. And I am not vindictive, but those are just the facts of life.
P: Do the southern schools of accounting compare favorably with the Ivy leagues?
P: The Yales and the Harvards and the Princetons are still the best?
A: Still the best. You know, I have to say that my teaching
... I am as good as there is, in my own personal opinion. I have not run into
anybody that I felt was better, Now, I came out of that school, and the professors
who taught me, I felt, gave it 110 percent. All of them were the finest teachers that
I have ever been exposed to in that school of accounting.
P: Now, Florida has some top-notch accountants. You are included in that, [as well as]
Al Warrington. But you have people who have regional recognition [and] national
recognition, and yet you are products of the University of Florida. Is this as a result
of the experience after you left the University of Florida?
A: Well, let me give [an] example here. The master of laws program in the law school,
when it started, had no national reputation, or anything like that, but now that
program is the finest in the country. [It is] recognized.
P: Well, I keep hearing of it being compared with the program at New York.
A: It is better than New York.
P: Well, I hear it being nationally recognized. But I hear you saying that is not true of
the School of Accounting.
A: I would like it to be, but in being fair and honest, I would defer. I do not monitor
that other than people who we employ, and we have found that people from the
University of South Florida and other schools have just as good a starting position
as anybody coming out of the University of Florida.
P: You have got to be in a position, however, to make a judgement on this because of
your presence in Gainesville and your proximity to the University.
A: Well, I encourage our people to go to school out here, take courses, and they are
very helpful about that. I have no reservations about any of them. I do not know
all of the faculty now, and I drifted away from them and [from] being involved like
I was, because of frustration.
P: Are you on their council?
A: No, Dean Lanzillotti moved me off that [council].
P: It is kind of interesting. When we were making up the list [of] people who would
be important for me to interview about the School of Accounting, [Douglas] Doug
[A.T.] Snowball [Ph.D., associate dean of accounting, appointed 1987] and others
over there put your name [at the top of] the list.
A: Doug Snowball is a good guy. He came along [later].
A: John Simmons [was someone] whom I liked very much. If I am totally honest about
what I felt happened there, [I think] John just got tired of being an administrator.
He probably was a better teacher.
P: And he was followed by Hadley [M.] Schaefer [Ph.D., associate dean of accounting,
A: He was handpicked by Dean Lanzillotti. I liked Hadley Schaefer. He has left here,
P: No, he is still here.
A: Is he?
P: And I have done an interview with him.
A: I had a lot of contact with him, and it was during his tenure that I finally realized
I was the person who was always causing waves, being obnoxious, and making
demands that I knew were not going to happen. [Laughter]
P: Keith, do they still come after you for money?
A: No. And I will tell you what happened there. I gave some money to the master of
laws program and the library. I always felt that we had, [at] my little office here in
town, a better library than the University of Florida law library. Now, I know that
is not true, but I would call it a library for the working man. I was convinced of that
when, in one of the courses, the professor came in and [made an announcement that
someone] had torn the pages out of one of the assignments. That had happened on
a lot of occasions.
P: Oh, yes. That happens.
A: I am talking about a tax library, a tax library for the working man. In order to
upgrade that, I gave them some money. I have not been in it to see it. I have been
going to go over there. They say my name is on a plaque.
P: You do not know how they spent your million dollars?
A: It was not a million dollars, 1 think it was like $5,000. I think John Simmons
somehow or other [found out]. I used to go to lunch with them to just see what was
going on. I could tell it kind of frosted them that I would do that and not help the
School of Accounting. 1 want to help them every way I can, and I will if I can see
[results]. Just like I could see what I was doing was going to help big time to make
that school something--cause, effect.
P: It sounds to me that it is growing, but it has not yet reached your hoped-for
A: I even go beyond the academics. It gets back to what I am talking about that this
University of Florida law school has, when it was the institution in the state of
Florida. Now that has dispersed. Even that has been mellowed.
P: But the tax program still stands [out].
A: It is the only one. Miami does have an L.L.M. program. They have an estate tax
L.L.M. program. It does not have the national recognition.
P: Have we lost the ball?
A: In the School of Accounting?
A: No. I think they are really positioned to pick it up and run with it big time now.
After talking to you, I would like to go to lunch and talk with Doug Snowball, and
say, "Okay, now." Not that I am going to do it; I am going to be sixty-six here in
July. I would get involved, I can tell you, but it has got to be [my way]. Here is the
way I look at it: They tried it this way, [and] I do not think it has worked. It is a
hyped-up accounting department called a school with a director who is like the head
of the department.
P: And they have got a new clean there, John Kraft [dean and professor of Finance,
A: And they have stolen their building from them, that was another thing.
P: What do you mean, they have stolen their building?
A: [I] had a conversation with Dean Lanzillotti about this right after it was built. It said
The College of Business on the building. I said, "Where is our sign going to be up
there?" He says, "There is not going to be one." "What are you talking about?"
Well, if you go over there and look, there is a little sign (at least the last time I was
there) out by the curb in the parking lot area, a black sign that in white says "School
of Accounting". That was the product of my [protest].
P: They have named the School of Accounting for Fred Fisher.
A: Well, that came later. Back when I was in school and Fred was there and we would
want to go visit my wife's parents for Thanksgiving or Easter, I picked Fred as the
fellow to go down to Alday's and do the jobs I had. I could not get away for the
weekend unless I had somebody taking care of it, and Fred would do that for me.
He has never forgotten that. He was just like me, he needed the money. [It was]
a good deal for him and a good deal for me.
P: Did you help bring Fred Fisher aboard?
A: No. I went to lunch with Fred the day he gave that money, and we went downtown
and had lunch and talked for a long time. [Laughter]
P: So somebody else propelled him in the right direction.
A: But I always had kept my eye on Fred. I knew he was down in Clearwater, [Florida],
and I could tell through the license issues and everything where he was. I was always
thinking he would be the fellow that would come back to Gainesville and join me.
P: You were schoolmates together. Did you maintain a relationship after that?
P: He went his way and you went your way.
A: Then, he saw me when he came up here. I may have seen him a time or two
P: But you did not visit back and forth and your wives were not chummy?
P: There was no social relationship.
A: No. In fact, he invited me to a party here when his daughter, who was a graduate
getting her law degree from Stetson [Universityl, was marrying a fellow from up here.
P: We were invited too, but we could not go either. Did you write?
A: We went to the party here. You should have come.
P: We were out of town.
A: But I talked to Fred a long time there. I had talked to him before that, but his
daughter got very interested in me and her daddy, and our relationship, because I
had gone to school with him. 1, of course, always would take the position that I
taught him everything he needed to know and gave him a job to get him started and
P: Keith, there is another general question I wanted to ask you about our own
graduates here from accounting.
A: They are good. There is not anything wrong with them.
P: But do you not think they are lacking in that they are not well-educated? I mean,
they come in as a freshman and they start taking all of these business courses and
then accounting courses, and they do not know anything about anything else that is
going on in the world. Now, would not your eight-year program kind of rectify that
a little bit?
A: That is how I really feel. I see no difference in the law school and the accounting
school, to be honest with you. Dean Lanzillotti did some wonderful things that I got
exposed to when I was involved. He got all of the national representation to come
here. I do not know if you remember anything about that, but the head of all the
Big Eight firms, the comptroller of General Motors, people like that, would fly in
here in their jets to attend meetings here.
I got exposed to that and listened to them talk about what they wanted. These are
people hiring thousands of people. 1 am just [an employer with] fifteen people. We
are just little, relative [to them]. It is a different ball game. Their retention was less
than 2 percent of the people they hired. That is a statistic for the Big Eight firms.
Their feeling [is] the University of Florida is just as good as anybody else, the people
coming out of here. I feel that is a reasonable [indicator] when you start talking
about ranking. But 1 have been disappointed in some of our accounting graduates.
P: In the quality of their education?
A: To give you an example, [I would say,] "Who wrote this memorandum?" [I found]
out it was a University of Florida graduate. [I would say,] "Do not let them do that
P: They do not know how to read, they do not know how to write, and they do not
know that there is a world beyond the accounting office. Is that a correct statement
you think? A correct evaluation?
A: Yes. So they should have a regular four-year program.
P: Which is what you do in law school. You take a major in English, or in history, or
in political science, and then you go to law school.
A: You started out the interview asking me about this, did I miss something? Yes.
P: That is what I really was asking you.
A: I am saying, what I missed, I should not have missed that.
P: Have you been able to fill those gaps in your own life?
A: I have. I realized I had a touch of dyslexia.
P: You said that.
A: I was at the appeal level with a client who had a child that was dyslexic, and the
issue was whether it was just a learning problem or a medical problem. They had
spent a huge sum of money. I was cross-examining, if I can call it that, a doctor
before the appellate conferee, which is the next level going up in tax. We do not
go any higher than that as accountants. If we think we have a problem at that level,
we always get a tax lawyer involved in it, even though I am admitted to the bar and
all the courts. We do not do it because those guys work full time doing that, and
they know how to plead, they know all the players and everything. It is just not in
the best interest of our clients. But I know we got a very reasonable thing. I like
to do that. So I will do it.
I got up there and this doctor was defining what all of this was all about. As I am
listening to him I am thinking, "Holy cow, that is me. He is talking about me." I
Of course, I had my brother. Let me tell you about my brother and his ability to
write. He was an even better reader. He would read all night, numerous times and
heavy stuff, even when he was in high school. He can write.
Last time I was in his office in Miami one of his associates in there said, "I want to
show you something about your brother." He showed me a legal pad where [my
brother had written] an appeal to the Third District Court of Appeals in New
Orleans. (I think it is the third.) And they publish these in books. Here is the legal
opinion of my brother for that appeal before the U.S. appellate court. He then went
and got the book out of the library, he opened it, and you could take his hand-
written brief and [see that] the court of appeals just took it and published it.
P: As is.
A: As is.
P: He practices in Miami now?
P: So both of you deserted Jacksonville?
A: Yes. I think of Jacksonville, the Southside particularly, like Gainesville used to be.
Gainesville is getting a little big.
P: But you are nearing retirement now, so you do not care?
A: [Laughter] Now you said that, I did not.
P: I know. I said that. I know how old you are.
A: You know, I do not want to hurt the feelings of anybody, and I guess Dean
Lanzillotti would be the only one that might take exception to some of the things I
said, but I do not mean anything.
P: You have made honest statements, and none of these things are bad.
A: The way I see it, if I were in his position, I would have done absolutely the same
thing. I have laughed about this with him when we get on the golf course. I still can
give him "up the country" about it.
P: You are in a position to.
A: I have backed off being as involved as I was with the School of Accounting because
I had enough problems just running an accounting firm. I guess it is kind of selfish
in a way.
P: Are you involved elsewhere on the campus?
P: In the Foundation?
A: Through the Foundation, and I am on the board of overseers at Shands [Hospital],
and I enjoy that.
P: You are working, then, with people like [David R.] Challanor [Vice President,
Health Affairs, J. Hillis Miller Health Center]?
P: Jack [F.] Shorstein, [LL.B., C.P.A., Shorstein and Shorstein, Jacksonville, FLorida]?
P: He is my accountant.
A: He is a good guy.
P: Oh, wonderful.
A: I get along well with him.
P: I have known him since he was a child.
A: Oh, you have?
P: I want to go over this list with you of potential interviewers and see what you think,
and I have the tape recorder on because I want you to suggest other names if you
think they ought to be on here. Obviously, Doug Snowball, [and] Jay Skelton in
A: He was head of one of the big accounting firms over there. He came in and was one
of the fellows kind of after the thing got going, and he got involved, and I would say
you have to talk to him.
P: Bob Ellison in Miami.
A: Bob Ellison. He would be retired now, but he influenced me about cooling off as
much as anybody. He always said, "We have to listen to Keith." One time the Dean
cut me down, [and] Ellison said, "Wait a minute, let us hear what he has got to say."
P: [Douglas] Doug [H.] Thompson [Jr., president, Accounting Firms Associated, Inc.].
I do not know him.
A: Well, he was the executive director of the Florida Institute.
P: Florida Institute of what?
A: C.P.A.s. Bob Ellison had something to do with that. I do not know. You might ask
him about that. They hired somebody else to do that; Doug [left] as the state board
of accountancy representative and he moved out of that. I noticed he was part of
the faculty over here at one time. Doug is a C.P.A., but he never practiced.
P: Where is he now?
A: He is here in Gainesville, and he does something, [but] I do not know what it is.
I do not know anything that he has had to do, at least during the time I was
P: All right. I have already done Hadley Schaefer and I am going to do Fred Fisher
next month. What about [John] Jack [L.] Kramer [Arthur Andersen Professor of
Accounting, appointed 1979; dean of the College of Business Administration,
A: Where is he now?
P: He is here. He is still on the faculty. Associate Dean.
A: He is a nice guy. Is he the Associate Dean of the College of Business?
P: Yes. I did not know what role he played as far as accounting is concerned.
A: He came after the fact, again. He and his wife were the tax people. He has written
a lot of good stuff. I know him.
P: I have on my list here the man who is the Graduate Research Professor [of
Accounting, appointed 1977; director of the Accounting Research Center, appointed
1980], [A. Rashad] Abdel-khalik. He is an Egyptian, I think.
A: I say this complementarily-the stuff he writes, I cannot even read. And I do not
know who else can either. [Laughter]
P: It sounds to me like I will have a great time interviewing him.
A: I looked at him as the professor who is their national recognition person who wrote
this esoteric stuff. [Laughter]
P: Nobel laureate. Who is Steve Tebolt? He was a student here in 1978, do you know
him? He is a C.P.A. in Ft. Lauderdale.
A: I know of him. Who is he with, where is he from?
P: He is in Fort Lauderdale. -low about J. Michael Cook?
A: He was of my era.
P: He is in New York.
A: He was with Coopers, Lybrand? One of the big firms?
P: I do not know.
A: Yes. He is with one of the big firms. He was an alumnus who came back and tried
to help a little now and then. You might listen to what he would have to say.
P: How about [G. Thomas] Tom Frankland [partner, Price Waterhouse]?
A: I do not know him. These are people who all came in [later].
P: Fred Edenfield.
A: Fred Edenfield was a player in the game. He was one of the four original alumni
at the initial meeting.
P: Okay. I remember that you said the four people who came to that initial meeting,
and Lanzillotti was the fifth person. Can you think of any other people who ought
to be added to this list, Keith? Is there anybody else in Gainesville who played a
A: If I got any encouragement, it was from [Delmas Dennis] D. Ray [M.B.A., professor
of accounting, appointed 1948]. He taught me a couple of courses and I liked him.
He was the teacher who would say, "You keep pushing."
P: Anybody off the campus? I am going to interview Marston, [Gene Willard] Hemp
[vice provost/senior associate vice president of Academic Affairs and professor of
engineering sciences, appointed 1990], Bryant, and Kraft, of course. I have already
A: Oh, you have? I would like to read the [interview of the] dean. Does he address
P: He says wonderful things about you.
A: Oh, God, you are making me feel bad. Have I said anything that I should not have?
P: No, you have not in the slightest, and I do not know why you were concerned about
it. You did not say anything bad about anybody. You are giving your own personal
opinion, and that is what an oral history interview is all about.
A: The bottom line how I feel is if we had had an accountant as Dean, and allowed to
be a freestanding school, this school now would be at least a two-year program,
meaning a total of six [years]. You would get a four-year degree.
P: And it would have a much larger reputation.
A: We would be further down the road, no question about it, because the people we
would be turning out would be premium.
P: I do not know whether that is going to happen, however, in the immediate future
with the dollar situation as it is.
A: We had that opportunity, and we had the money.
P: Yes. During the formative years you certainly did have the opportunity.
A: I say I take some of the blame, I was probably too concerned about my own personal
[gain], making money and all the good stuff.
P: Have you been successful?
A: Not as successful as I could have been, but on the other hand .
P: You are able to live the good life.
A: I am not going to be a Fred Fisher to the School of Accounting, or anything like
P: Well, they have got all they can take. If you start making donations, you can start
thinking of the history department, or something really worthwhile.
A: I enjoy history.
P: See, you can come under my tutelage, Keith.
A: I could get very interested.