POST TIME: The colorful life and sudden departure of Guy Metcalf


Readers: Loyal reader Larry Grosser, a former docent at the Historical Society of Palm Beach County, reminded us recently that one of the most shocking departures from public office took place 100 years ago this week. The subject: One of the region’s most colorful pioneers, Guy Metcalf. Here’s more, some of it from previous columns.

The Ohioan had founded the Indian River News in Melbourne on Feb. 24, 1887. It moved first to Juno, then in 1895 to West Palm Beach. (More on this next week).

By April 1898, as the Spanish-American War was sparking fear in the region, Metcalf asked Washington to mount guns in Palm Beach to protect its hotels. He also pushed through the first road to Miami, in 1892. And campaigned hard for the construction of Palm Beach High, now the Dreyfoos School of the Arts, which opened in 1908. After he sold the Tropical Sun, Metcalf served as West Palm Beach mayor in 1904 and 1905.

He later pushed for separation from Dade, and Palm Beach County formed April 30, 1909. It had about 5,000 residents.

J.C. Harris, founder of the downtown West Palm Beach store that still operates — was the first Palm Beach County schools superintendent. Metcalf followed.

But on Feb. 6, 1918, Metcalf was arrested and charged with forging a bill for $333.49 for science equipment. He reportedly had been through a lengthy illness and was given permission to report to the sheriff the next morning. Instead, in the early hours, a janitor found him in a chair in the vault of his office, dead of a bullet to the head. He was 52.

“The verdict of the coroner’s jury was that the act was committed in a fit of temporary insanity,” The Palm Beach Post reported.

“Guy Metcalf, urbane, smiling, clever, painstaking, has filled the last page in his loose-leaf ledger,” Post columnist W.F. Thorndyke wrote. He said Metcalf “had his faults; we all have them; but some of us cover them better or plan them more carefully than did he. There is ever sufficient good unforgotten to create the base for memory’s monument, and it is so in this case.”

Metcalf said, in a suicide note left for a friend and released by the coroner’s jury, “There is but one solution for my imminent troubles. For several months I have not had command of my faculties as I should, and it seemed to me that I was coming to the verge of a mental breakdown. Now this last trouble is on, and if I have done wrong as charged I cannot conceive why I did it.”

He added that “I hope my friends will consider my act charitably, while my enemies are welcome to the pleasure they will have in my removal from the field of further activities,” concluding, “Good-by and God bless you and yours. As ever yours faithfully, Guy.”

Next week: The Tropical Sun and the Gazetteer

Submit your questions to Post Time, The Palm Beach Post, 2751 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach, FL 33405. Include your full name and hometown. Call 561-820-4418. EK@pbpost.com. Sorry; no personal replies.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

NC woman wins $1 million scratch-off jackpot
NC woman wins $1 million scratch-off jackpot

Winner, winner, before that chicken dinner. A North Carolina woman is $1 million richer after buying a scratch-off ticket while purchasing her meal, WRAL reported. Sayanna Bragg bought a dozen chicken wings and a soft drink at a Durham convenience store and decided to purchase a Million Dollar Fever scratch-off ticket.  When she got to her...
Georgia dad, daughter sing their way to more Girl Scout cookie sales
Georgia dad, daughter sing their way to more Girl Scout cookie sales

Who knew Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” would make good Girl Scout cookie-selling music? A father and daughter team from Georgia created a viral video in which they ride in the car while subbing out the song’s original lyrics to push Girl Scout cookies. The song is performed by Grammy-winning Georgia artist Childish Gambino...
Parkland shooting: Records indicate Nikolas Cruz previously threatened school shooting
Parkland shooting: Records indicate Nikolas Cruz previously threatened school shooting

UPDATE 8:30 p.m.: Documents released Thursday, a tip called into the sheriff’s office said Nikolas Cruz  “could be a school shooter in the making,” according to The Miami Herald. According to those records, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office  did not write a report on the incident.  Two years before the...
Palm Beach dermatologist gets 3 years in prison for health-care fraud
Palm Beach dermatologist gets 3 years in prison for health-care fraud

A Palm Beach dermatologist who overcame an abusive childhood as the son of a Holocaust survivor and gave mightily to Jewish causes was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison in connection with what federal prosecutors described as an $18 million health care fraud scheme. In sentencing Dr. Gary Marder, U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg acknowledged...
Jury to mull case of West Palm Beach man accused of impersonating cop
Jury to mull case of West Palm Beach man accused of impersonating cop

A Palm Beach County jury will continue deliberations Friday in the case of a 21-year-old West Pam Beach man accused of impersonating a police officer to lure a woman into his car nearly two years ago before he tried to coerce her into sex. Cristian Leon faces charges of kidnapping, falsely impersonating an officer during the commission of a felony...
More Stories