Taver Bayly, was born in Key West in 1890 and moved to Clearwater with his parents that same year. His father, Phillip J. Bayly, immigrated from England to Key West in 1883 and met his mother, Emma Louise Lowe, in Largo while on a world tour bound for South America after his graduation from Cambridge. Taver Bayly originally planned to become a mining engineer and spent three years at the Colorado School of Mines but returned to West Florida upon the death of his father and assumed the family citrus business. “We got ice out of Ocala by weight, wrapped in sawdust and burlap…and our water came from wells – both hand pump and windmill,” recalled Bayly to a Clearwater Sun reporter in 1964. Bayly joined People’s Bank in 1912 (which became First National Bank in 1932) as a teller and climbed the corporate ladder to the presidency of the bank. He retired from the bank in 1960.
“I remember back in the early 1900’s when John McClung put in the first electricity and the first ice plant…and John R. Davey installed the first telephone system. Electricity was only on at night for lighting purposes…and the phone only worked during the day because nobody was supposed to be talking at night. We had a phone down in the country (Harbor Bluffs) and the wires were strung from tree to tree,” Bayly related to Sun reporter Irene Albert.
Among Bayly’s recollections were the first wooden bridge built between Clearwater Beach and the mainland in 1917; the free causeway that replaced the bridge in 1925; the first modern subdivision developed in Harbor Oaks in 1912 by Dean Alvord; the establishment of the first YMCA about 1916 (of which he later served as a trustee) and the organization of Boy Scout Troop 1 of which he was the first scoutmaster. A founder of the Clearwater Public Library, he participated in the decision to accept a Carnegie Foundation grant and purchase the Osceola Ave. library site from John R. Jeffords for $3,000.
Taver Bayly was the first president of the Clearwater Rotary Club and was a charter member and past president of the Greater Clearwater Chamber of Commerce. He was also a board member of Morton Plant Hospital for many years and was active in a number of other community endeavors. “The Chamber of Commerce really started in 1914 as the Board of Trade,” he recalled. “James V. Davidson and a group of local businessmen got together and set up headquarters at a desk in Mac Duffy’s barber shop where Rutland’s Store is now.”
The Chamber moved from Cleveland Street to a modern building on the bluff at Osceola Ave. and Drew St. in 1964. (That building was demolished in 1998.) In 1965, Bayly was named Mr. Clearwater by the Chamber. He was commodore of the Clearwater Yacht Club for six years and one of the first Pinellas County Gold Star Pioneers.
Taver Bayly died on November 8, 1979. In 1982, he was posthumously named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of Clearwater, an honor accepted by his daughter, Anne Bayly Cornett.
Biographical information obtained in 1999 from the Clearwater Sun archives, courtesy of the Clearwater Public Library System.