Your Impact

A Lawyer, A Lloyd & A Champion of Civil Rights

Photo by Aaron Daye

A larger-than-life marble statue of civil rights pioneer Mary McLeod Bethune is replacing one of a Confederate general in the National Statuary Hall early this year. The state-sanctioned project has been years in the making, with private fundraising led by UF alum Bob Lloyd. He is shown here in December 2021 when the statue was on view at the News-Journal Center in Daytona Beach prior to its transfer to the U.S. Capitol.

Double Gator Bob Lloyd comes from a long line of civic-minded Daytona Beach residents. His newest project brings the first state-commissioned statue of an African American to the U.S. Capitol.

One morning in the late 1940s, not long after the end of World War II, Daytona Beach auto dealer J. Saxton Lloyd was standing at the local train station, waiting to catch the Champion to Washington, D.C. With him was his wife, Adelaide “Lady” Lloyd, and they were headed to the Capitol to lobby for the removal of wartime restrictions on rubber and steel, materials badly needed by the automotive industry.

As the couple looked around the platform, they spotted an old friend, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, the renowned Black educator, civil rights activist and founder of Bethune-Cookman College, Florida’s first institution of higher education for African Americans. Saxton Lloyd served on Bethune-Cookman’s board of trustees, and he and Lady crossed the platform to chat with the influential woman, who was an advisor to five U.S. presidents.

“They had a very cordial conversation,” says the couple’s grandson Bob Lloyd (BA ’87, JD ‘90), recalling the story his grandmother shared with him. “They chatted and learned she was headed to D.C. herself. And then there was a very poignant moment when [Lady] went to the front of the train, and she went to the back.”

It was a painful reminder of the twisted laws of segregation in the South, Lloyd recalls his grandmother explaining: “There they were on the Daytona Beach platform, hanging out together as locals, then on the train to D.C. — same destination, different parts of the train. It just was the way things were then, my grandmother would say.”

But it wasn’t right.

Share:

“Someone once told me, ‘You get out of it what you put into it,’ and that’s one of the best pieces of advice I received.”

— Bob Lloyd —

Nearly three quarters of a century later, Bethune is finally heading to the Capitol with the respect and honor she fully deserves. A larger-than-life marble statue of her will be installed in the National Statuary Hall this year, replacing one of a Confederate general. A driving force behind this state-sanctioned project is Bob Lloyd himself, vice president and board treasurer of the Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Statuary Fund, Inc.

“I’m so proud of our state for doing this,” says Lloyd, a double Gator and general counsel for Brown & Brown, Inc. “What a great symbol for Florida and our country.”

The Bethune statue is just one expression of the Lloyd family’s multigenerational dedication to civil rights and serving the Daytona community. That legacy has sustained Bob Lloyd throughout his life and his career as an attorney.

“I’m third-generation Daytona Beach, and one of the ideas that has been handed down … is you give back to the community, you commit yourself and stay involved,” says Lloyd.

Three Generations

Speaking via Zoom from his sunlit office at Brown & Brown, Lloyd looks relaxed in a blue shirt, framed by a panoramic view of Daytona’s Intracoastal Waterway. The setting is fitting given that the city and its famed hard-sand beach were shaped by generations of Lloyds.

In fact, Brown & Brown’s new headquarters were built on the site of his grandfather’s original business.

Bob Lloyd’s grandfather, auto dealer J. Saxton Lloyd (1907-1991), helped build Daytona International Speedway in the 1950s. In the mid-1930s, the elder Lloyd gave NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr. his first job as a mechanic. Saxton Lloyd also served as chairman of the Bethune-Cookman College Board of Trustees. Photo courtesy Bob Lloyd

J. Saxton Lloyd opened Lloyd Buick Cadillac on North Beach Street in 1934 and spearheaded Daytona’s first advertising scheme, touting “the World’s Favorite Beach.” Among his proudest accomplishments were securing the financing to widen U.S. 1 to four lanes through four Florida counties and helping get Daytona International Speedway built in the 1950s. Lake Lloyd, in the speedway’s infield, is named in his honor.

Just as important was Saxton Lloyd’s desire to improve conditions for Daytona’s Black population. His decades-long friendship with Dr. Bethune encompassed regular meetings at her campus office and steadfast support of Bethune-Cookman College (now University), whose success would uplift the Black community and Volusia County at large.

In 1935, Lady gave birth to twin sons, Robert and William, who went on to attend Notre Dame and, starting in the 1960s, worked alongside their dad at Lloyd Buick Cadillac for more than three decades. A glance at the twins’ achievements reveals decades of civic involvement, including Robert serving as chairman of Bethune-Cookman’s board of counselors (an entity Saxton Lloyd founded).

Named for his father, Bob Lloyd was born in the mid-1960s, his mother, Sandra DeArmas Lloyd, an accomplished Florida landscape artist. He is one of six children, all of whom still live in Volusia County.

“Yeah, we’re a big Catholic family,” laughs Lloyd. “My sister is the oldest, and then there are five boys in a row, all about a year apart.”
In high school, Lloyd lettered in swimming, cross country running and soccer, and dreamed of becoming a lawyer. While Notre Dame beckoned, he felt a stronger pull to Florida’s flagship university.

“My grandfather never went to college, but if he had, it would have been the University of Florida,” Lloyd says. “He was a great Gator fan. Starting in the 1940s, he would go up to UF for football games with his cronies, continuing until a couple of years before he died in 1991.”

“When I had to pick a college, I knew it had to be UF,” he adds. “I think there’s only one kind of Gator fan, and that’s the people who go overboard in their fandom.”

“My professors at UF helped me gain a long awareness of not only [my grandfather’s] past, but of the responsibility to carry it into the future and to make sure we preserve that great progressive legacy.”

— Bob Lloyd —

A Tremendous Time of Change

A political science major, Lloyd says he instantly felt at home the moment he stepped on the Gainesville campus in 1983.

“It was a tremendous time of change for the university,” he says. “I came in under President Marston, and Charley Pell was our football coach. When I left, John Lombardi was our president, and Steve Spurrier was our football coach.”

Lloyd soaked up UF’s opportunities for involvement during those years. A member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, he served as a member of Florida Blue Key and Savant, a Preview counselor, an Honor Court chancellor and a campus diplomat, among other roles. At the end of his senior year, he was inducted into UF’s Hall of Fame, which honors outstanding student leaders.

As an undergraduate, Bob Lloyd studied political science before going on to earn his juris doctorate at Levin College of Law in 1990. The friendships and relationships he built are what he treasures most about his years at UF, he says. This photo from 1985 shows him seated at the entrance to the university at University Avenue and 13th Street. Photo courtesy Bob Lloyd

“Someone once told me, ‘You get out of it what you put into it,’ and that’s one of the best pieces of advice I received,” says Lloyd.

Lloyd is grateful for the friendships and relationships he built at UF, including those with his professors. One moment from his sophomore year is especially vivid.

“I remember being in Turlington Hall in Dr. Richard Scher’s class, which was called Southern Politics,” he says. “He was giving a lecture to an auditorium crowd of 200 to 250 students, and he started to talk about race relations in Florida. He focused on Daytona Beach and said it had a very progressive record in civil rights, and he credited a car dealer in Daytona Beach for helping make that possible.

“I sat there stunned because I was like, ‘I know who that is.’”

After class, Lloyd asked Scher if the car dealer was J. Saxton Lloyd.

“He kind of looked at me like, Oh, am I in trouble? and he said, ‘Yes, it is,’ to which I said, ‘Well, I’m his grandson,’” remembers Lloyd.

That exchange launched Lloyd’s tutelage under Scher and the late Dr. Jim Button, who encouraged Lloyd to “do his own homework” on his grandfather’s legacy, he says. That included interviewing Saxton Lloyd for the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program archives.

“My professors at UF helped me gain a long awareness of not only the past, but of the responsibility to carry it into the future and to make sure we preserve that great progressive legacy,” says Lloyd.

Building Career & Family

Lloyd graduated from Levin College of Law in 1991 and launched his career as an attorney at Cobb Cole, in Daytona Beach.

One his first clients was Brown & Brown, the insurance company of Gator Hyatt Brown (BSBA ’59). As an undergraduate, Lloyd had formed a close friendship with Hyatt’s son Powell Brown (BA ’89), and he welcomed the opportunity to serve as outside counsel to the nation’s sixth largest insurance brokerage. In 1999, Lloyd joined Brown & Brown’s team.

His first three years were spent as an insurance salesman, and he applied himself so doggedly he qualified for the firm’s elite Tangle B Club for top salespeople. (The name refers to the overlapping B’s in the Brown & Brown logo.)

Bob met his wife, Sherri, at a networking party for Daytona Beach professionals in the 1990s. “She fell in love with the University of Florida when we started dating, so she’s as much an honorary Gator as anyone,” he says. This photo with mascot Albert was taken at The Swamp in November 2019. Photo courtesy Bob Lloyd

“I was able to do that even though I was a lowly lawyer,” laughs Lloyd. “That was one of my proudest achievements. … You have to know what it takes to make a business work. Now I always think, ‘I’m an insurance person first and a lawyer, second.’”

Lloyd moved up the Brown & Brown ladder, first to assistant general counsel, then vice president and chief litigation officer, and, now, executive vice president and general counsel.

That stability has proved terra firma for a burgeoning family and civic life.

In the 1990s, Lloyd attended an event in Daytona Beach for up-and-coming professionals. There he was introduced to Sherri, marketing manager for the city’s shopping mall.

“We had dinner there that evening … and we hit it off from there,” says Lloyd. “She fell in love with the University of Florida when we started dating, so she’s as much an honorary Gator as anyone.”

Marriage soon followed, and with arrival of children Delaney and Matthew, Sherri became “a fulltime Super Mom,” says Lloyd. The two young Lloyds are now both undergraduates at Dad’s alma mater.

“The only thing better than attending UF myself is seeing my kids thrive at the University of Florida and have their own experiences and friendships,” says Lloyd.

Delaney, a junior, is a Florida Cicerone and a sister at Alpha Delta Pi. First-year Matthew Lloyd recently joined Phi Delta Theta, his father’s fraternity, and Bob presented him with his brother pin this fall.

“It was really wonderful,” Lloyd says about the informal ceremony.

Matthew and Delaney are far from the only UF students to have benefitted from their parents’ nurturing touch. Over the years, the Lloyds have donated generously to the university, especially Student Affairs. Lloyd has also established internships at Brown & Brown for students in Beyond120, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ professional development program.

“We feel it’s our obligation to give back to a university that has given so much to us,” says Lloyd, who sits on the UF Foundation Board of Directors.

Carrying on their father’s tradition, Matthew and Delaney Lloyd are currently undergraduates at UF; this family portrait was taken in December 2021. Left to right, top row: Sherri and Bob; bottom row: Matthew and Delaney.

She Will Belong to the World

Bob Lloyd has used his many leadership positions over the years to advocate for diversity and inclusion, serving for two terms as chairman of Bethune-Cookman’s board of counselors.

Undoubtedly, his most passionate extracurricular activity is the Bethune statuary project. Since 2018, he has been a leading figure in the nonprofit fund that has raised about $800,000 in private donations, enabling the project to expand to encompass a bronze statue for a new riverfront park in Daytona Beach, an exhibit, a forthcoming documentary film and a school curriculum module.

The project has been years in the making, says Lloyd, with support from governors Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis. The latter requested in 2019 that the statue of Confederate general Edmund Kirby Smith in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall be replaced by Bethune.

“This [statuary project] isn’t a reaction to the recent protests over Confederate statues,” Lloyd explains. “It is being done to recognize what we aspire to be — as a state and as a nation.”

En route to D.C., the marble statue made a historic pitstop Dec. 17, 2021, in Bethune’s small hometown of Mayesville, South Carolina, where it was serenaded by a choir and honored by dignitaries. Photo by Eric Breitenbach

“This is a bipartisan effort supported by a Republican-led legislature and two Republican governors, and they’re making this happen for no other reason than it’s the right thing,” he adds.

Bethune’s statue was created by Puerto Rican-born sculptor Nilda Comas, who labored over it for two years, creating models in her Fort Lauderdale studio and sculpting the final work in Italy. To give the 11-foot-high work the grandeur it deserved, Comas secured the last and largest piece of statuary marble from the quarries where Michelangelo obtained his stone in the 15th century.

In July 2021, Bob and Sherri Lloyd traveled with more than 50 Floridians to view the statue’s first public unveiling in Pietrasanta, Italy, where it was blessed prior to its voyage to Daytona Beach; there it was displayed at the News-Journal Center at Daytona State College for two months.

In December, the marble icon began its 800-mile journey to the U.S. Capitol. On the 17th, the 3-ton statue made a pitstop at Bethune’s small hometown of Mayesville, South Carolina, where residents and notables welcomed it with joy. Among those celebrating were Bethune descendent Jereleen Hollimon-Miller (the town’s mayor), actor Lou Gossett Jr. and U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn, who announced that he looked forward to welcoming the statue to the halls of Congress.

Later that month, the statue arrived in Washington, D.C., and was put in storage while the spot in the Capitol was being made ready for it. The unveiling will take place in the first half of 2022, Bob Lloyd anticipates. And he and Sherri are sure to be there for the historic ceremony.

It will mark a milestone in three generations’ efforts to support Bethune’s vision of a brighter future for Black Americans.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime project to be involved in, and it’s so important for our community,” Lloyd says. “And when we deliver Bethune’s statue to Washington, D.C., she will belong to the world.”

Who Was Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune?

Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune circa 1943. Photo from Florida State Archives

The daughter of formerly enslaved people, Mary Jane McLeod Bethune became one of the foremost Black educators, women’s rights activists and civil rights leaders of the 20th century.

The first member of her family to be born free, Bethune came into the world on July 10, 1875, in Mayesville, South Carolina, the 15th of 17 children. Like the rest of her family, she picked cotton as a little girl, but the opening of a nearby missionary school gave her the unusual opportunity to receive an education as an African American after the Civil War. After graduating from the Scotia Seminary for Girls (now Barber-Scotia College), in North Carolina, and attending Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago, she settled on a career as a teacher.

In 1904, Bethune moved to the east coast of Florida, where a large Black population had sprung up around the construction of Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway. That year, she opened the Daytona Literary and Industrial Training Institute for Negro Girls with “$1.50, a faith in God and 5 little girls,” along with her 5-year-old son, Albert.

During Bethune’s lifetime, the school grew and expanded. In 1923, it merged with Cookman Institute of Jacksonville and eventually became known as Bethune-Cookman College. In 2007, it achieved university status.

Bethune’s work on behalf of improved race relations and education for minorities made her a national figure. In 1935, she founded the National Council of Negro Women and served as vice president of the NAACP from 1940 to 1955.

An advisor to five U.S. presidents, her most significant public service roles came from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who appointed her director of the National Youth Administration’s Division of Negro Affairs in 1936. As a member of Roosevelt’s “Black Cabinet,” she worked to create more jobs for minorities and to promote anti-lynching legislation. Together with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, her close friend, she pushed to create the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), which was signed into law in 1943.

Bethune was the only Black woman, and one of just eight women, out of 850 delegates, at the San Francisco Conference, which drafted the charter for the United Nations in 1945.

The recipient of 11 honorary degrees, Bethune died of a heart attack on May 18, 1955. She lived long enough to see the U.S. Supreme Court end school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education.

Seven months after Bethune’s death, Rosa Parks, a Montgomery seamstress on her way home from work, refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white man and was arrested – an event that sparked the modern civil rights movement.