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Edward Bok; his gift to the nation. - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Days Out

Bok Gardens is the most wonderful tourist attraction. It features wildlife gardens and bird sanctuary with a 60 bell Carillon tower. This is located in Lake Wales which is a fairly easy drive from your vacation villa and well worth a visit.

Why Bok you wonder?

Well, it is named after its philanthropic founder, one Edward Bok.

Edward was born Eduard Bok in Dan Helder Holland in 1863. However, when he was 6, the family emigrated to Brooklyn New York and therefore Edward was educated and raised as an American.

At the tender age of 13, Bok began working as an office boy for the mighty Western Union. He earned the princely sum of 50 cents a week! In the intervening years, Edward held many office bound jobs until 1884 when he became editor of The Brooklyn magazine.

Five years later he re located to Philadelphia where he was appointed editor of The Ladies Home Journal, a post he was to hold for 3 decades. He increased the readership of the journal to over 1 million; a first in the magazine world.

He was 36 before he got married; this was despite (or come to think of it, because) he was a very good looking man. His wife was the daughter of the magazines publisher.

They had just one son and one grandson and both of these gentlemen are now dead.

During their marriage, Mary and Edward Bok used to snowbird in Lake Wales and so it was that the idea of building these magnificent gardens took shape.

After Edward retired he wrote his celebrated auto biography called The Americanisation of Edward Bok. This won both the gold medal from The Academy of Political and Social Society and The Pullitzer Prize.

Bok always had a strong social conscience and it was around this time that he raised the funds to inaugurate The Peace Prize.

Suddenly it was 1927 and time to put into action his dreams of creating Bok Gardens and the unique Carillon Tower. Around 2 years later the gardens and Tower were dedicated by the President of The United States.

I am sad to tell you that Edward Bok survived only one short year after the completion of the gardens. He died of a heart attack in 1930.

You will discover when you visit the gardens that Edward is buried in his beloved gardens and they stand as a fitting testament to his life and work.

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Page added on: 3 October 2011
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