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College's First President Dies at 87
September 10, 2014 – Dr. John Wilson, who served as the first president of Brevard Junior College – now Eastern Florida State College – has died at 87.
Wilson passed away in Clarksville, Tenn., following a long career in higher education that included his role in leading Brevard Junior College from its founding in 1960 to 1965.
The college’s first students, along with 31 faculty, met in the old Cocoa High School building off Forest Avenue that was later demolished. In 1963, the college merged with Carver Junior College, which was also founded in 1960 to serve African-American students.
The college then moved to 87 acres along Clear Lake in Cocoa, currently home to its Cocoa campus. It was renamed Brevard Community College in 1970, and became Eastern Florida State College in 2013 when it starting offering four-year Bachelor Degrees.
“Dr. Wilson started our college on its important mission to provide students in our community with a high-quality education, a role that we continue today,” said Eastern Florida President Dr. Jim Richey. “His dedication laid the groundwork for the college’s success and our community was truly fortunate to have had him in our midst.”
A building on the Cocoa campus, the J. Bruce Wilson Gymnasium/YMCA Family Center, is named in his honor.
Wilson left Brevard County in 1965 and became the first president of Florida Community College, now Florida State College in Jacksonville, where he served until 1970. He also served as president of Southeast Community College in Cumberland, Ky., from 1972-75.
Wilson went on to teach at the University of Kentucky and University of Tennessee in Nashville.
He eventually left education for a career in real estate.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Dr. J. Bruce Wilson Scholarship Fund for at-risk students through the Eastern Florida State College Foundation or their favorite charity.