Harold Gary Morse (December 19, 1936 - October 29, 2014) was an American billionaire and the developer of The Villages, Florida.
Personal life and education:
Morse was the son of Mary Louise and Harold Schwartz. After the couple divorced, Mary Louise married Clifford Morse, and lived in Central Lake, Michigan. H. Gary Morse and his wife, Renee, together owned a house in The Villages worth more than $1 million. Morse has three children, each of whom own and work for the Holding Company of the Villages Ltd. He is known for having had a private life, making little contact with other residents and not giving interviews to the media. He was a close friend of former U.S. Surgical CEO Leon C. Hirsch, and is the grandfather of actress Megan Boone.
Prior to being a land developer, Morse worked as an advertising executive in Chicago. In 1983, Morse moved to Florida to take over his father's business selling vacant lots to mobile home owners. Morse instead decided to build homes, restaurants, pools, and golf courses, and by 1986 Morse was selling more than 500 homes per year. In 2011, the Holding Company of the Villages Ltd. generated at least $550 million in revenue. Morse also was the proprietor of a bank, an insurance company, a local newspaper and other properties. Morse has been described as owning "just about everything" in the community.
In 2008, Morse settled a class-action lawsuit for $40 million that alleged that Morse had misused monthly community amenity fees.
The IRS is investigating the special tax districts Morse used for The Villages.
Morse, his children, and The Villages have donated tens of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Florida Governor Rick Scott. Morse also served as a major fundraiser for George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. Morse also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Republican National Committee. Morse also used his 147-foot yacht, the Cracker Bay, for political gatherings.
Democrats in The Villages have complained about what they see as their marginalization.
Morse died on October 29, 2014.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license