Rita and I enjoy having deep roots in Santa Rosa County. My mother, Anne, and my father, Dudley, started a family in Milton after working together at the Chemstrand Nylon Plant in Pensacola, later known as Monsanto. My father then secured a position with State Farm Insurance where he finished his career as an adjuster and attorney negotiator. Many people through the years have told me how they appreciated the way my father helped them through a tough time in their life related to a major accident or loss, and others have expressed their thankfulness for the opportunities he provided them in getting their insurance related businesses started.
After leaving Chemstrand, my mother finished her career with the Department of Agriculture. She worked with the farmers in Santa Rosa County through the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service known as the ASCS Office. This job had special meaning to her since she had grown up as a farmer’s daughter in Jay and it gave her the opportunity to help hardworking farmers like my grandfather, A.C. Farrish, Sr.
Rita’s parents are both from Santa Rosa County with deep roots going back to some of the original homesteading families in the area through her grandmother Jewel Wells Golden. Her father, Curtis A. Golden, was the longest serving State Attorney in Florida history by holding his position in the First Judicial Circuit for 36 years. Rita’s mother, Mary McDonald Golden, grew up as part of a large family in rural Santa Rosa County. Mary raised Rita and her sister, Ginger, while supporting Curtis in his career. She also served the community through the years in clubs and service organizations. Rita’s love for serving and helping others was promoted and nurtured by her grandmother Hilda McDonald who owned and operated the Benevolence Association of Santa Rosa County going back to 1983.
Rita and I both attended schools in the Santa Rosa County public school system and are both proud alumni of Milton High School. Our two children, Maryanne (12) and Canon (9), have attended Santa Rosa County schools since Pre-K. As I reflect on the time Rita and I spent in Santa Rosa County schools, I remember the common threads of overwhelming support and the pride each respective community had in their local schools. Both now and then, Rita and I were involved in our schools, and we have always been honored to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We learned much more than academics and appreciated the opportunities to give back to the communities we love. We will stand beside you as parents, community members and stakeholders in developing a positive future for all children in Santa Rosa County.