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

NEW: Nation, social media has way too much fun with Lake Worth’s ‘zombie alert’
NEW: Nation, social media has way too much fun with Lake Worth’s ‘zombie alert’

Lake Worth made international headlines this week after the city falsely sent out a “zombie alert,” warning residents of “extreme zombie activity.” Media outlets from USA Today to The Guardian turned their attention to the city’s odd, comical alert and equally comical retraction. While the city has...
Stormy Daniels Day: West Hollywood honors adult film star with key to city
Stormy Daniels Day: West Hollywood honors adult film star with key to city

The city of West Hollywood, California, proclaimed May 23 Stormy Daniels Day and is honoring the adult film star with a key to the city. >> Read more trending news  The city said in a Twitter announcement that it’s honoring Daniels for her leadership in the #Resist movement. “In these politically tumultuous times, Daniels has...
End of an era: Last Friendly’s in South Florida closes its doors
End of an era: Last Friendly’s in South Florida closes its doors

A sign on the front door of a local restaurant bears the news: “This location of Friendly’s is now closed,” it reads. It’s the end of an era: Friendly’s, the popular Northeast diner chain, has closed its location in front of the Regal Cinemas movie theater on State Road 7 in Royal Palm Beach. It was the final Friendly&rsquo...
VIDEO: Delray officers save woman, two half-naked toddlers from apartment ledge 
VIDEO: Delray officers save woman, two half-naked toddlers from apartment ledge 

DELRAY BEACH — Officers rushed to a Delray Beach town home Saturday afternoon after a disturbing call came in: A woman and her two toddlers were perched on the narrow ledge of the building, refusing to come down. The scene itself, said Delray Officer Rob Addea, was a bit more jarring: The children were half-naked. Rain trickled down...
Benjamin School grad owns a business, but plans for a different career
Benjamin School grad owns a business, but plans for a different career

Roberto Lama wakes up at 5:45 a.m. to start his first 3-D printing project of the day. It’s early, he has a full day of classes ahead of him, followed by clubs and sports practice before getting home to study and do more 3-D printing — a hobby that he turned into a business. Lama, the Benjamin School’s valedictorian, created Real3DDesignz...
More Stories