Ross Deal

Mr. Ross Deal, deceased (1992), was known in his day as ‘Mr. Watermelon’ in the  Panhandle area of   Florida.

Ross was an active member of the National Watermelon  Growers & Distributors Association (the original name of the National Watermelon  Association) and numerous other industry, civic and church  groups, including the  Kiwanis Club, Fire Ant Control Committee, Washington County Historical Society, the Sportsmen Club, and Washington County School Board.   

Additionally, Mr. Deal held positions as a   Trustee with Moss Hill United Methodist Church, Washington County Vo-Tech, and Washington County Hospital, and he was the Founder of the Georgia McGraw Day Scholarship Fund and the Panhandle Watermelon Festival, which began in 1956 as a free weekend of events surrounding watermelon (and still attracts over 10,00 annually today).       

Mr. Deal’s life surrounded the growing and shipping of watermelons.  During his time in the industry he developed innovations in watering (irrigation) and conveyer belt systems to unload trucks that were huge advancements for the industry. 

He was instrumental in encouraging other farmers to plant watermelons as a cash crop, and having the panhandle of Florida recognized as a watermelon producing region.  He loved to give speeches and talk about what he loved (after his first love - his wife, Agnes) - - he loved to talk about watermelon!  

Ross Deal was recognized by then Florida Governor Burns (1965) with the Distinguished Citizens Award, one of the many honors that he received during a storied career.  He is considered by many to be (not only the patriarch of his loving family) but also of the watermelon industry in Northwest Florida. 

Please join us in congratulating the entire Deal Family for this posthumous honor of their beloved Ross (Deal), as he takes his rightful position in our most honored roll as a National Watermelon Association Hall of Famer.