Once you’re named the most influential, you deserve a special place.
FRED LEVIN (2007)
The flamboyant and outspoken Pensacola trial attorney has the University of Florida law school named after him. Fred has won more than 25 jury verdicts in excess of $1 million. His biggest achievement was helping rewrite legislation in 1993 that led to a $13.2 billion dollar settlement by the tobacco industry with the State of Florida.
Fred has attended cocktail parties with former President Bill Clinton, former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev, U2′s Bono and David Rockefeller. He was honored at the United Nations by being made a Chief in the Republic of Ghana, one of only two non-Ghanaians ever so honored.
J. COLLIER MERRILL, III (2008)
This developer and restaurateur works behind the scenes for our university, maritime park, downtown improvement and political candidates and causes. With his brothers, Will and Burney, Merrill co-owns Merrill Land Company, a real estate development and holding firm, The Fish House, Atlas Oyster House and Jackson’s Steakhouse in Pensacola. His contacts stretch beyond the Escambia County borders, and his restaurants have served such national newsmakers as Sen. John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Gov. Charlie Crist.
Collier has taken to heart the saying of the late M.J. Menge: “It’s better to be the kingmaker than the king.”
LEWIS BEAR JR. (2009)
The cornerstones of influence in Pensacola are business success, commitment to improving the area and stubbornness to persevere regardless of how monumental the task may seem. You can check all three boxes when you look at Lewis Bear Jr. His company, The Lewis Bear Company, is a beverage distributorship founded in 1876 that holds the regional franchise for Anheuser-Busch with offices in DeFuniak Springs and Panama City. It’s difficult to find a charity or community organization that hasn’t been helped by the Lewis Bear family.
When asked why he thinks he might have been chosen to top the IN 2009 Power List, Lewis replied with a smile, “When I get committed to something, I can be pretty stubborn.”