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Fred Cull remembered as Cape Coral trailblazer

By Staff | Mar 6, 2015

When Fred Cull came to Cape Coral in 1974, there wasn’t much more than a few stoplights and open land as far as the eye could see.

New to the budding city, Cull helped build the foundation upon which the Cape has grown into the largest city between Tampa and Miami.

Cull died Saturday at the age of 88, and he is being remembered as one of the community’s trailblazers.

Anne Cull, Fred’s wife, said he and the city had something of a love affair.

“He was involved in as much as he could be involved in to get the community moving and expanding,” Anne Cull said. “He could see the potential in Cape Coral and was a mover and shaker. He got things done in a nice way.”

Cull became the publisher of The Breeze, oversaw the building of a printing plant and corporate office on Del Prado Boulevard and started the Lee County Shopper.

Paul Sanborn, city historian and longtime friend, said Cull jumped right into the community.

“He contributed so much when we needed his expertise,” Sanborn said. “Everybody knew who he was because it was the only paper in town.”

As the town grew, so did the Cull’s footprint on the growing city. He became president of the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce, served on the boards of Cape Coral banks and Cape Coral Hospital, and helped spur the impetus for the building of Cape Coral High School and the Midpoint Bridge.

“He was at the forefront of anything that happened there. He had an affinity for the people and wanted to see the city grow,” said Jeff Cull, Fred’s son. “As a father, he was terrific. He was encouraging, and never pushing us. He was the only father in the stands at the high school track meet, which I remember vividly.”

In retirement, he became executive director of the Cape Coral Caring Center, which went from a limit of serving 500 families to more than 4,000 when he stepped down in 2012.

“He made the Caring Center what it is,” said Julie Ferguson, current executive director who worked with Cull for 12 years. “When he started we struggled to keep volunteers and food on the shelves. He made such a difference in the amount of food we could give.”

Cull is survived by his wife, Anne; children Jeff Cull and Carolyn Rogers of Fort Myers and Christopher Cull of Lawrenceville, N.J.; step-children Maryanne Wagner and Robert Ritter of Cape Coral and Gary Ritter of Oxford, Pa., and 12 grandchildren.

He was pre-deceased in 2004 by his son, Jonathan.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, at Faith Presbyterian Church, 4544 Coronado Parkway, Cape Coral, followed by a ceremony at Coral Ridge Cemetery, 1630 SW Pine Island Road, Cape Coral.

Memorial donations in Fred Cull’s memory may be made to Hope Hospice’s development office, 9470 HealthPark Circle, Fort Myers, 33908 or online: hopehcs.org/donate/