William H. Grace died August 5, 2022. Bill was born in Fort Myers to his parents Dr. Angus D. Grace and Eleanor Case Grace on September 17, 1944. His grandfather, Dr. W.H. Grace delivered him.
Bill Graduated from Fort Myers High, class of ’62. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in history, and the University of Tulsa with a Juris Doctorate. Afterward he practiced law in Florida for forty years. He was the 100th person to be admitted to the Lee County Bar Association. In addition to his professional work, Bill’s avocation was in the field of historic preservation.
He was an early member of Save the Palms and led the Twin Cities Coalition in opposition to the first attempts being made to construct the midpoint bridge. He was the first chairman of the City Commission charged with overseeing the restoration at the Burroughs Home. He founded the Burroughs Home Society which raised money and oversaw the restoration of the interior of the Home.
Bill served eight years on the Board of the Directors of the Calusa Nature Center. It was during his term as president, the size of the Museum building doubled and the Planetarium was constructed, equipped and opened to the public.
In 1986, Bill joined other local preservationists to form the Lee Trust for Historic Preservation. The goal of that organization is to promote historic preservation throughout Lee County by acquisition, education, and advocacy. Bill served as president of Lee Trust for many years. Among the many accomplishments of that organization was the initiating and supporting the formation of historic districts such as the Downtown Historic District, Edison Park, Dean Park, and Seminole Park. Lee Trust has acquired two historic residences and sold them with historic restrictions under which they were restored to their historic conditions. Lee Trust has also sponsored many historic seminars and tours. Funds have been raised for numerous historic projects including $250,000 for the moving and restoration of the Langford Kingston Home.
Bill served eight years on the Board of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, an organization that supports historic preservation throughout the State of Florida.
Bill and his wife Susan, successfully led the movement to incorporate Precinct 59 into the City of Fort Myers.
In 1985, Bill joined the Friends of Koreshan, the support group for the Koreshan State Park. As president of that group for over 25 years, he oversaw the funding, planning, and restoration of the Damkohler Cottage, the Founders House, the Planetary Court, the Art Hall, and the Schlender Cottage. Under his leadership Friends of Koreshan funded and oversaw the first professional archaeological survey of Mound Key.
Bill served eight years on the Board of the Directors of the SWFL Historical Society, and was President for three of those years.
Bill served four years as a member of the Fort Myers Historic Preservation Commission and was a founder of the Southwest Fla. Historic Museum Foundation, Inc., which supported the education mission of the Southwest Florida Museum of History.
Bill went on to work with the Town of Fort Myers Beach toward the purchase and restoration of the Mound House, a 2,000-year-old archeological site upon which sits the oldest structure on Fort Myers Beach. He was the founding board member of the Advisory Board which oversees this historic site on behalf of the town. He continued to sit on the board as their historical advisor until his death. He was instrumental in achieving National Register designation for this important site.
Bill was predeceased by his parents, brother Angus Douglas Grace, Jr., his daughter Eleanor Anne Grace, and his brother-in-law Dr. George Allen Ball. He is survived by his high school sweetheart and wife of 56 years Susan Highbaugh Grace, his daughter Susan Elizabeth Grace Flesher, his son-in-law Carl (Buddy) Flesher, his grandsons Casey Scott Sitterson and William Noah Sitterson, his sister Jane Grace Ball, and many cousins, nephews and nieces.
The family will have a private memorial for their beloved Bill at a later date.