Bob Wines, Ocala nursery owner, dies at 79

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Posted April 15, 2021 | By Carlos Medina,

Bob Wines Jr. [Submitted]

Robert “Bob” Wines Jr., who in the 1970s took over and expanded the namesake nursery established by his father in the 1950s, died on April 7. He was 79.

Wines died quietly after a brief illness, according to Laurie Williams, his business partner.

A native of Marion County, Wines took over the operation of Bob Wines Camellia Gardens & Nursery in the 1970s. He eventually expanded into landscaping, specializing in tree sales and planting.

He also expanded the nursery’s inventory to include more ornamental plants, vegetables and fruits. All the while, he cared for and added to the extensive camelia gardens started by his father on the property at 2610 SE 38th St.

“He loved flowers. He loved plants. He loved the community,” said Williams, who joined the nursery in 1986.

But at first, Wines set out on a different career path. After graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi in the late 60s, he returned to Marion County and started teaching elementary school reading. But he eventually took over the business his father started in 1952.

The nursery grew out of the senior Wines’ love of camellias, which he collected and tended to after work at his boat and marine supply business.

“He remembers his father working late into the evening out there with the camellias under lights,” Williams said, recalling stories told by Wines Jr.

While Wines Sr. eventually sold the boating business, he kept the nursey, which is now nestled in a residential neighborhood that grew up around it.

“This was their house. This is where they lived,” Williams said of the property.

Still, the nursey retains a deceptive appearance from the entrance. Once inside, however, there are more than five acres to explore.

“It’s like a hidden gem,” Williams said.

Wines Jr. enjoyed visiting the nursery as often as he could. He would ride his golf cart around talking to the customers, offering advice or just a good word.

“He loved the customers. He loved the people. He loved being out here around everybody,” Williams said.

Wines also loved Lake Weir. He was an avid water skier and an accomplished slalom skier.

“When he was young, he lived on that lake during the summers,” Williams said.

Wines also gave back, she said. For the last three years, he helped a group that fed the homeless every day in Ocala.

“He was a very strong, stubborn man with a very big heart that loved everybody. He was an amazing person,” Williams said. “We didn’t just look at him as a boss or the owner, he was our friend and he truly cared about all of us.”

Williams said the plan is to continue with the business, which now includes Wines’ daughter Maryanne Nowlan.

“The nursery will stay here. This is his legacy. There’s no place like this around here,” she said.

Wines was preceded in death by his father in 2013.

Survivors include his mother, Adena Wines; daughters, Nowlan and Bobbye Lynn Wines; and a granddaughter.

A funeral service is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services, 910 E. Silver Springs Blvd. Visitation is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m.

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