Sun City Center History Society attracts hundreds, announces new support group

From left, Sun City Center History Society V.P. Rusty Seiden, President John Bowker, Secretary Susan Muise. The documents stored in this 7-1/2-ft.-square room in the Community Association’s Information Center represent six decades of SCC history. The newly formed Friends of SCC History Society envisions someday moving to a larger structure to provide work and display space.


Community Hall was packed on Feb. 17 for a presentation by the Sun City Center History Society President John Bowker. The crowds that make their way to these presentations continue to indicate that residents have an interest in how the community was developed and has grown.

Jeanette and Mike McTaggert, part-time residents who have a home in Ottawa, were happy to be in the audience and were impressed with the insight they gained. “We should all send big kudos to the history society for doing this for us,” she said. “I was disappointed that we were already gone so missed the presentation last June. In fact, I had asked on behalf of other snowbirds to have it repeated. I love it here, and it’s so important for us to know where we came from and are going as a community.”

The February show spanned nine decades as Bowker talked about how Del Webb got into the construction business and founded two other Sun City senior communities — Arizona in 1960, California in 1961 — before ours.

Each time Bowker talks about SCC history, he adds anecdotes and updates to keep it fresh. For example, did you know Sun City Center’s opening was on Dec. 30, 1961, two days earlier than Webb had wanted? He wanted it to be 1962, so it would be three communities in three consecutive years. Also, do you know why we have “Center” in our name? There already is a small community on U.S. 41 named Sun City just south of Ruskin.

Among the other tidbits:

Webb financed the stocking of some area businesses to help them be ready for potential residents.

The first residents, Frank and Mildred Ward, moved into 715 Desert Hills Way on April 25, 1962.

Sun City Center had an airport parallel to S.R. 674 to attract affluent buyers.

Del Webb visited SCC only three times before he sold the property in 1971.

It is believed that Bingo night has been interrupted only three times since it started here 50 years ago.

During the presentation, Bowker announced that the society has spawned a new group — Friends of the History Society, which is an official Community Association club. For the past 10 years, all historical related activities have been under the CA’s auspices with the History Society as a CA “special committee.” That committee will continue to function with Bowker at the helm.

Marilyn Cote-Miller, friends president, explained that having the friends with a club status will enable the group to more actively seek funding and expand the volunteer roster to support the society’s many projects. For example, the society believes SCC was Florida’s first senior community, but it’s going to take more research to prove it.

Society Secretary Susan Muise, who has worked tirelessly with Bowker on society and information center projects over the past dozen years or so, is excited about the friends formation. She said their long view is to acquire more space in a structure with historical significance. Currently, the society has an office and a small document vault in the CA’s Information Center. They share a conference room with the center’s workers. “We have people who want to help research and scan documents, but we don’t have a place for them to work,” she said.

The friends are now offering six levels of membership/sponsorship ranging from $5 to $200. They are emphasizing that becoming a friend does not mean a time commitment, but they will welcome volunteers. Call 813-633-3038 or email for more information.