John Schlitt Sr.with his children John Jr., Louis, Bob and Grandpa Miller
stand in front of McKee Jungle Gardens just down the road from their home.
The Schlitts came as farmers, but their Catholic faith, strong
work ethic and a deep belief in service to others dominates
the family history and have established many important firsts
for Vero Beach.
John started Schlitt Brothers Painting with his brothers
Leo and Corny in Vero in 1921. John passed the business to
his son Frank who passed it to Richard and now Richard’s
son Paul has joined him to continue the legacy of his great
The first Catholic Mass was held at Louis and Anna’s home
on 22nd Avenue in June 1919, soon after St. Helen’s began
construction. Cornelius built the first trailer park — Schlitt’s
Trailer Park & Texaco. Florine Schlitt Martin was the first
female bank teller with Indian River Bank. Florence Schlitt
started Sunshine Physical Therapy with Bill Graves. Ed
Schlitt helped build the first condominium in Vero (Ocean
Chateau). Bob Schlitt was the first charter Grand Knight for
the Knights of Columbus. The Schlitts provided much of
the volunteer labor for the building of Jaycee Park and John
Schlitt designed Bethel Creek House. Many members of the
family were instrumental in beginning the first Harvest Festival
and remain very involved to this day.
For the Heritage Center’s Pioneer Dinner honoring the
Schlitts, family members were asked to place push pins on
an Indian River map to mark each of the Schlitt development
properties. The quantity of work amassed over a span of 60
years is amazing, a testament to their reach in the community. >>
Florence Schlitt, in black coat, helped organize the first St. Helen’s Harvest
Festival. Bob Schlitt still holds court at his same coin-toss booth to this day.