Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Stealie Monroe Preacher (1891-1971)

Portrait from the 1935 Bench and Bar of Florida.

   We continue our stay in Florida for a look at the life of Stealie Monroe Preacher, a representative in the Florida legislature from Walton County. Nearly two decades following his time as a representative Preacher was returned to public office, being elected to two terms as the Mayor of his home city of DeFuniak Springs, Florida. Born in Darlington, Florida on July 17, 1891, Preacher's unusual first name "Stealie" is the first such instance of that name that I've seen, and after first finding it I was under the assumption that it was a nickname! As it turns out, a nickname it is not, and this is reinforced by Preacher himself writing it in full on his 1917 draft registration.
   Little is known of Preacher's early life or education. He was a veteran of WWI, serving with the 31st Division of the American Expeditionary Forces and is recorded by the 1935 Bench and Bar of Florida as having attended the Blackstone Institute in Pennsylvania. Preacher first entered Florida political life in 1925 when he began a seven-year stint as Tax Assessor of Walton County, Florida. He was admitted to the Florida bar around 1930 and in 1931 established his law practice in DeFuniak Springs.
   Stealie M. Preacher married in 1934 to Ella Brannon (1902-1994). The couple are believed to have remained childless through the entirety of their marriage. In the same year as his marriage Preacher was elected as one of Walton County's representatives to the Florida State House of Representatives and served during the 1935-37 session. During that session Preacher and fellow representative D. Stuart Gillis worked for the passage of an act:
"Creating the Walton County bridge authority, providing for it's powers and duties authorizing it to construct a bridge or bridges and approaches thereto, across the Choctowatchee Bay or Choctowatchee River, connecting State Road Number 10 and State Road Number 115."
   Following his time in the Florida legislature Preacher was elected as the Mayor of DeFuniak Springs in the early 1950s and won a second term as mayor in July 1954. Preacher would continue to be active in Walton County political life well into his seventh decade, and in January 1959 began a four-year term as Prosecuting Attorney of Walton County, Florida. Stealie M. Preacher died in DeFuniak Springs on August 12, 1971, just a few weeks following his 80th birthday. He was survived by his wife Ella and a burial location for both Preacher and his wife remains unknown at this time.

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