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Carroll S. Thrift

Master Gardener, creative entrepreneur, fierce competitor and humanitarian, Carroll S. Thrift died Sunday, March 29th after a valiant year long battle against Pancreatic Cancer. Carroll was a bright eyed, intensely passionate and compassionate man who lived life full on. His irreverent humor, warm personality, broad smile and quick laugh will be missed by a multitude of friends and colleagues who loved his companionship. Carroll found a balance in life as he loved and cared for Patty Forgham-Thrift and their two children Gwynna and Spencer. He was an inspirational and involved father who so wanted to see Gwynna and Spencer grown up, bloom and live their dreams. They are after all his most enduring legacy.

In his youth Carroll ran like the wind, running track for Greenville High School (S.C.) and playing offensive back for the Red Raiders. He was an All State football player and two time Sprint State Champion. After receiving a full scholarship to the University of Tennessee, Carroll was an All-SEC Sprinter and All-American Relay Runner who contributed to three consecutive SEC Indoor and Outdoor Track Championships, lettering 1965-1967. His UT Alumni Track Team never misses a chance to gather each year and often were hosted at Carroll and Patty's home dining on delicacies prepared by them both.

After graduating from UT with BS and MS Degrees in Education Carroll used the skills he honed in sports to accomplish business and sales success first for Levi Strauss. He then founded several successful companies including Travel Market Inc. and Container Garden while still donating his time to Big Brothers. Carroll's passion for philanthropy and a soft spot for animals led him to executive positions with The Humane Society of the United States in Washington DC and later ASPCA in New York. Through his national consulting work and volunteerism Carroll provided a helping hand to many thousands of people and their four legged friends. He loved all pets but he especially loved Penny, his family's terrier mix. Soon after moving to Central Florida in 2003, Carroll began working for the Orlando Science Center, leading its Pet Fair event to resounding success and helping the Center advance its goals. Most recently he helped Michelee Puppets with strategic planning and development and their mission of empowering children's lives through puppetry.

His deep love for gardening blossomed when his family moved to Orlando and he was able to create his fantasy tropical garden with his beloved palms. He earned his crowning achievement of becoming a Master Gardner and created Container Garden Company. His booth at the Winter Park Farmer's Market filled with colorful and stylish planted containers was a popular stop for anyone who wanted to chat about gardening and garden design. Carroll greatly enjoyed sharing his horticultural knowledge with others and never minded getting his hands dirty. For his family and many friends who loved Carroll his presence will always remain vivid for us in the beauty, color and fragrance of the flowers he loved.

A celebration of Carroll's life will be held on April 24th at 10 a.m. at Leu Gardens in the Native Wetlands Garden - a place where he spent many hours of enjoyment. In honor of his giving spirit the family asks that donations be made to the Carroll S. Thrift Memorial Fund c/o SunTrust Bank, 4751 New Broad St., Orlando, FL 32813 to benefit Michelee Puppets, Orlando Science Center, A New Beginning Pet Rescue, and The Humane Society. In addition to his wife Patty, daughter Gwynna and son Spencer, Carroll is survived by sisters Ruth Briley and Anne Van Gieson and brother Danny Thrift of Greenville, S.C.

Published in the Orlando Sentinel on April 5, 2009