Waldo, we hardly knew ye

Waldo Sexton

One of Florida’s biggest dreamers and doers, Waldo Sexton brokered some of Vero Beach’s most important land deals while building quirky restaurants, a hotel and a tourist attraction that would give the city much of its personality. SEXTON COLLECTION, ARCHIVE CENTER, IRC MAIN LIBRARY

Five decades after his death, Vero Beach’s iconoclastic Waldo Sexton continues to fascinate and surprise


As Vero Beach prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019, no one figure stands taller in the city’s history than Waldo Sexton. He is Vero Beach’s most iconic figure, celebrated and written about more than any other.

Quirky, eclectic, ubiquitous, enigmatic.

Waldo’s entrepreneurial drive and vision permeated every sector of early Vero commerce: real estate sales, residential development, citrus cultivation, cattle ranching, dairy farming and tourism.

His larger-than-life imprint remains indelibly planted on Vero Beach through many of his works that still stand: McKee Botanical Garden, the Driftwood Resort, and the Ocean Grill, Patio and Szechuan Palace restaurants.

He helped develop Vero Beach Country Club and negotiated the sale for the land that would become the Riomar subdivision and John’s Island. A collection of bells, many of those acquired by Waldo, can be seen placed discreetly at venues throughout Vero.

His passion for beautifying the city’s landscape extends from the water oaks at 14th Avenue to laurels along 21st Street, royal palms on Royal Palm Boulevard, Royal Palm Place and McKee Botanical Garden, and banyan trees throughout the city.

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