LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – The “Veggie Man” was a beloved purveyor of fresh fruits and vegetables at his stand on the corner of Old Highway 37 and Shepard Road in Lakeland.
After his sudden death, his widow, Sandra Black, is honoring his legacy and his memory.
“A lot of people are still mourning Lewis. Everybody loved my husband,” she said to a longtime customer Thursday.
Lewis Black, 70, was essentially the produce king of south Lakeland for years, building a bond with his buyers.
“He loved his customers. He always wanted to satisfy his customers. He was kind to them. He carried the bags out for him, the watermelons, whatever. He was very nice to them and they loved and respected him,” said Sandra Black.
Lewis Black died in a motorcycle crash on July 12 at the corner of Cherry Lane and Tower Palms Lane in Lakeland.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Black was thrown from his motorcycle after a driver hit him while taking a turn.
His widow set up memorials at the site to honor him.
“It’s in memory of him. That’s where he drew his last breath,” she said.
Somehow, the items she placed, including flowers and a cross, always disappeared.
“It hurt. It really hurt to think that anybody would do that,” she said.
Finally, Sandra Black contacted the county to get a sign installed at the site.
It reads, “Drive Safely in Memory Robert Lewis Black.”
It’s part of Polk County’s Memorial Marker program.
The Roads and Drainage Division installs the markers on the county’s right of way to memorialize people who have died as a result of a vehicle-related crash and to remind people to drive safely.
The cost for construction, installation, maintenance, and removal of the markers is covered by the county, according to a document describing the program.
If it is disturbed within one year, the county will replace it.
Deaths must have occurred within 12 months of the request for a marker.
For more information, contact Polk County Roads and Drainage Division at 863-535-2200.
Meanwhile, Sandra Black is also honoring her husband’s legacy by doing what he loved: running his produce stand.
“It’s been tremendous, more so than I even realized. He would have never realized the impact,” she said.
Customers can find Sandra’s produce stand on David Street in Lakeland.