By Sandy Arpen

Mandarin lost a legend when Montifiore William “Billy” Barwald passed away in May at the age of 97. He  had been a member of the community since electricity and paved roads first came to Mandarin and his father moved their two-story house by river barge from Riverside to Mandarin and then rolled it down Loretto Road on logs.

Barwald served in World War II in England and married an English girl, Peggy, who came home to Mandarin with him to start a family and a 60-year landscaping business. They also helped start  the Mandarin-Loretto Volunteer Fire Department with Billy Barwald serving as the Fire Chief and Peggy Barwald working the phone tree that was necessary to call all the other volunteers to go to the place of the fire.

Future home loans. North Florida's Premier Mortgage Expert Ryan Proffitt

In 1990, Barwald and his son Mike opened Flying Dragon Citrus Nursery. He was considered an expert in the field, gave talks about citrus all around the state and was elected to the Florida Nursery and Growers Association Hall of Fame in 2011.

Barwald was also a local historian with a keen knowledge and memory of Mandarin’s history.

In 2013 he told the board members of Mandarin Museum & Historical Society that he “had some stories” he wanted to tell and thus began a series of Front Porch Stories at Mandarin Museum. The series included stories about the citrus industry in North Florida, his family’s house moving, the cattle drives from Mandarin to Palm Valley and his experiences in World War II. For this effort, Barwald was awarded a Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission Award for preservation of heritage through oral history.

Billy Barwald will be greatly missed in this community by old-timers who knew him forever and newcomers who sought his advice and counsel on their citrus trees and knew they would also get a good story or two while they were there.

A public memorial for Billy Barwald will be held at Mandarin Museum in Walter Jones Historical Park, 11964 Mandarin Rd., on Sunday, June 26 at 2:30 p.m.

Sandy Arpen is President of the board of directors of the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society.

Photo courtesy Mandarin Museum & Historical Society

Billy Barwald shares tales during one of his Front Porch Stories at the Mandarin Museum.


  • Ackerman Urology We specialize in Prostate health, sexual health, bladder health, and Kidney health
  • Smiles by Glenos & Hadfic Orthodontists
  • Pavers concrete and more Free estimates
  • Snip's Tree and stump service over 25 years experience
  • Quality Eye care 25+ years of experience
  • Staverman Hearing Centers Hear loud and clear
  • Westminster Woods on Julington creek. Live well. Be Happy
  • Ackerman cancer center. We're here for your cancer treatment
  • Have questions about your medicare benefits? Call a SHINE volunteer.
  • Prudential Financial Planning Services with Andrew Laino
  • Vote for Dr. Erick Aguilar Republican candidate U.S. House Fl 4th district
  • Academy of Dance Open House & Registration August 19th and 20th 3pm to 6pm Classes start August 24th! Ballet, Pointem Jazz, Hip Hop Contemporary, Modern, Lyrical, Music Theatre, Vocal
  • Affordable Water
  • DIscount up to 30% Jim Register state farm agent
  • Nemetz Dental Associates! Your new smile awaits!
  • Havana Printing and office supply Call us today for all your cutome printing needs
  • Future home loans. North Florida's Premier Mortgage Expert Ryan Proffitt
  • Wild Birds Unlimited Nature shop. Have you watered your birds lately?
  • Legends of Real Estate call Kim Kessler
  • Harbor Chase Independent & Assisted living Memory Care Mandarin. Immerse yourself in a rewarding community that enriches your body, mind, and soul.
  • Dont Forget to vote for John Turner School Board member
  • Lori Hershey for School Board, District 7. A school system we can all believe in.
  • Matt Schellenberg. Dependable Leadership for these challenging Times. School Board District 7
  • Concrete Works! Free Estimates, driveways, Patios, Walkways, Concrete removal, Driveway extension, Pavers
  • Family Remodeling Contractors! Bath, Kitchen &ADA Remodeling
  • Mobile Notary Service. 15 years experience, 24 hour services
  • River Garden Senior Services, However and whenever you need us we're here
  • Starlight Gymnastics! Our #1 priority is your children!
  • Sugar Bear Antique Mall Summer spectacular sale July 10th-12th
  • Baptist Health, Great tools for motherhood
  • A Green Cleaner, Free pickup and delivery to your home!
  • Luxury living and compassionate care come together at starling. Welcome Home.
  • Alive Credit Union Start banking healthier today!
  • Clara's Tidbits Now in Mandarin!
  • Brian E. Floro DMD, PA Dental services
  • JR Dental General, Specialty and Dental lab
  • Support community journalism! Subscribe to the Mandarin Newsline today!
  • Railing Chiropractic & Acupuncture
  • Let them know you are open for business! Advertise in our may issue!
  • HarborChase independent & assisted living Memory Care Mandarin. Your safety and peace of mind is always our Top Priority
  • Smart Choice Medical healthcare membership! No VoPay, No Deductibles, No Hassles
  • Havana Printing 904-447-5021