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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

In Loving Memory of Lemuel Baylis Carnes III

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Lemuel Baylis Carnes III passed away February 25, 2024, in his home. He was 89 years “young”.  Born, June 25, 1934, in Greenville, South Carolina, he was the oldest son of Annie “Nell” and Lemuel “Lem” Baylis Carnes Jr.   
Lemuel Baylis Carnes III

The family moved to Thomasville, Ga. when he was 3 months old, where he spent the formative years of his life.  He was introduced to sand mining, when his dad took a job with Dawes Silica Mining Co. What little boy wouldn’t love watching dump trucks and playing on sand piles?  A seed was planted, that would one day be his means of carrying on his dad’s legacy and providing for his family.  He had wonderful memories of his childhood, having grown up surrounded by family, and walking to and from school and church. Life was simple then, and life never really changed him. 

The family moved to Davenport, Florida when Baylis was 11. It was a time of excitement and adventure. He and his brother Gary, two years younger, however, did not receive the warm welcome they had expected.  He would later refer to some of his new classmates as the “Davenport bullies”. He and his brother were dubbed the “preppy kids” from Georgia, wearing their white button down shirts and khaki pants. He would tell the story of coming home from school, bruised and dirty, and his mother telling him to dust off his pants and go back out and fight.  She taught him, the hard way, how to fend for himself and earn respect.  It wouldn’t be long before he was accepted, respected, and loved. 

The family moved to Haines City where he lived during his high school years.  It was these years that showcased the leader, and gifted young teenager Baylis had become.  Gone were the days when he was bullied!! Khaki pants and button down shirts, it turned out, were the style of the time. His classmates voted him “most popular” in his senior yearbook, Gateway ’52, and Baylis demonstrated all the characteristics that made him a leader. He served as class president his junior year, and held offices in 4-H, Student Council, and the Key Club.  The description under his Senior picture read,” He was not merely a chip off the old block; he was the old block himself.”  That was evidenced by his contagious, sometimes mischievous smile. Baylis had a gift for music and loved playing the trumpet. He was a member of the Haines City High School Marching band, as well as a member of the schools designated dance band.  On top of being musically talented, he was an athlete.  He was the pitcher on his high school baseball team his junior and senior year.  And good enough for his coach, Coach Stangry, to receive a letter from University of Alabama’s baseball coach, Happy Campbell, promising to give him a chance on their baseball team.  Alabama was the school he had been accepted to and his school of choice because of their School of Mining Engineering. 

Although he didn’t make the baseball team there, he continued his love for music, playing in the University of Alabama Million Dollar Band. He got involved in campus life, joining Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, where he was an active member.  His time at Alabama, however, was cut short with news of the sudden passing of his father, February of his freshman year.  He returned home and decided to continue his college education, closer to family at the University of Florida.  Later however, his junior year, he put his education aside and returned home to help his mother run what was now the family business, Standard Sand & Silica Company.  The Company his father founded in 1945, the year they moved to Davenport.   

Baylis took on a leadership role in the company using all the skills he had learned in high school and throughout his early life. He was still young and had many hobbies and past times, which included racing a stockcar, spending time at the racetrack, speeding across Lake Eva in a hydro plane, and later even learning how to fly a plane. It was evident that he loved things that transported, no matter what the form, trucks, boats, planes, or automobiles.  He really loved moving things, even having an affinity for time pieces.  Baylis, it could be said, was from another place and time!!  His fascination with heavy equipment and fixing up cars lasted a lifetime.  He got involved in the community volunteering to coach little league baseball. It was while coaching and mentoring a young boy named Mike Green, that he met and fell in love with Mike’s sister, Ann. It was love at first sight and 6 ½ years later they had the beginnings of their own baseball team, 5 children. Some of his hobbies were shelved, as work and family took precedent over his time. But he still loved music, dusting off his trumpet and playing it from time to time. On the weekends, he would put an album on the record player in the living room and belt out, with the most beautiful voice, the Nat King Cole song, Rambling Rose, among many others.  Or he would stand behind one of his girls as they played the piano and sing one of the hymns from the hymnal as they played.  Now he was taking his own children to play on the sand piles. He would walk them to church where he taught Sunday school class…. planting new seeds.  

Young Baylis’ acceptance wasn’t immediate as a manager and boss at Standard Sand. The skilled workers that his dad had managed, didn’t necessarily like being bossed around by someone so young.  Some even left the company.  Baylis had experienced this type of resistance before and used the skills his mother had taught him once again, to earn his position and to gain the respect that would come with it. He read every document in his dad’s office to learn how his father had run the company and the vision he had for it.  He led most effectively by becoming the worker himself.  He worked right alongside the people that worked for him. He would always say, I choose employees that are smarter than me, because at the end of the day, they make me look better.  He did not consider the people that worked for him less than him.  He loved them and their families and treated them as part of his own. 

His love for heavy equipment and machinery carried over to the workplace. He loved to have broken equipment taken a part and rebuilt using old parts.  Some have said, he liked fixing things a few too many times. But Baylis placed a priority on maintenance and even built his own shops at Standard Sand, establishing the importance he placed on the role of it in the company. It made him immensely happy to see things reused. He even went so far as to reuse paper plates. He was frugal sometimes to the point of diminishing returns. 

As more investments were made in land, the company diversified into citrus and cattle.  It had established itself as a leader in the sand mining industry, by delivering quality and service to the customer.  Lem Carnes Jr. placed Quality and Service so instrumental to the company’s success that he made the words part of the company’s logo he had sketched by hand.  In 1998, one of their biggest customers, Rinker Materials, presented Baylis, his brother, Gary, and sister, Nelly, with an irresistible offer to buy Standard Sand.  An offer that would have been hard for most to refuse. As with most siblings they did not always agree.  His brother and sister, saw the opportunity to take cash and move on to pursue their own interests and passions, Baylis decided to keep the land. It was at this point, that Baylis took complete control of what is now Standard Sand. Using the land as collateral, in 1999, he bought the industrial sand businesses back from Rinker.  Later, Baylis the entrepreneur created or purchased companies that either supported Standard Sand or used the products it supplied.  Among these were, Trans systems, a trucking company, Surface Prep Supply, a sandblasting and paint supplier, Walsdorf Metal Works, a sheet metal company, and Site Scape Materials, a company that used green waste to make mulch. Site Scape represented once again his recurring desire to reuse things, for profit, others thought to be waste.  With more land purchases and the help of his sons, other mining businesses were acquired including, Edgar Minerals in Edgar Florida, Elmore Sand and Gravel near Montgomery Alabama and Ivey Mine near Macon Georgia. These acquisitions more than tripled the size of his sand and gravel business and nearly doubled the size of his land holdings.  The thing that really drove Baylis was his desire to hang on to land and the businesses, no matter what the cost. He never veered much from that plan. Some have compared his business acumen, and strategy to John Dutton, played by Kevin Costner in the series, Yellowstone. 

Baylis married Valerie, in 1984, she had two sons and a grandson that to him were his own. His daughter and grandsons would also work in the business. On this part of his journey, Baylis discovered that he had another interest in longevity and wellness using natural foods and supplements. He had a penchant for earth sciences and chemistry and chemicals through his years in the mining and citrus industries.  And his belief in God and creation allowed him to make sense of the potential for the use of plants, minerals and chemicals and all things of the earth, to heal and/or potentially harm the human body.  He would always talk about carbon being elemental to all life.  At times, he had thought about changing the Company name to either Carnes Industries or Carbon Industries to create a bigger umbrella more descriptive of all the companies.  It was obvious, he wasn’t in Kansas anymore, but he was “somewhere over the rainbow”. 

With changes made in technology, he could google everything and google he did. Technology was great but there was, and would be, and will always be the good and the bad and the ugly of it. He read everything he could about improving quality of life and staying young.  He was later diagnosed with cancer and this knowledge proved valuable in staving off surgery, even reducing the markers he had for the cancer.  He was always being complimented on his incredible memory, and how well he moved around, and his energy level, even given cardiovascular disease and a diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis. He would often boast, with a big smile, how amazed everyone was and the compliments he got on his beautiful head full of silver white hair.  This at a time of life when most people are losing theirs.  Doctors were confounded by the way he reversed his cancer prognosis and were frustrated with him as a patient, as he replaced prescribed drugs with supplements and more holistic remedies. They finally told him to just keep doing what he was doing.  The problem was he couldn’t tell you what he was doing.  He was taking so many supplements and changing them so rapidly, he couldn’t relate his positive results to any specific one.   

Baylis was Baylis, he danced to the beat of his own drum.  He loved life, he loved living. He loved his family, his work, all living things especially the canine type, and he loved God, believing that love is the greatest power. He would say that the closest thing to God’s unconditional love was the love he received from his beloved pets. He was a consummate learner. Loving the outdoors and working there.  He once shared that when he was a young boy, he had wished his name was Sunny Skies. His faith in God and his Son, Jesus, were foundational to his life. A faith he shared with his children and those who were closest to him. It was Jesus’s teachings, that ultimately taught him how to live. Baylis fully owned his shortcomings and even more the ones he couldn’t change. He was perfectly imperfect, and he knew that it was only by God’s Grace that there would be a room waiting for him in heaven.  

Baylis was preceded in death by his parents, Annie “Nell” Carnes Phelps, nee Washington and Lemuel “Lem” Carnes Jr., his youngest sister Becky Phelps Dismuke and his first wife and mother of his children, Ann Green Carnes. 

He is survived by his wife Valerie Carnes, her sons Lance Cean and Otis Cook and her grandson Lance Cean Boggio.  

He is also survived by his sons, Lemuel “Lem” Baylis Carnes IV (Lisa), Timothy Mark Carnes and David Green Carnes (Lana). His daughters Deborah Carnes Sargeant (Harry III), Sally Carnes Wren (David). His brother, Gary W. Carnes (Dee) and sister Nelly Carnes Lawson (David) 

His grandchildren Charlie Wren (Melissa), Jeanann Wren Evans (Nate), Harry Sargeant IV (Morgan), Lemuel “Baylis” Carnes V (Kelsey), Joseph Carnes (Jamie), Priscilla Ashley Carnes Covington, Jake Wren (Chelsea), Alex Carnes, Garrett Sargeant, Emily Carnes, Katie Ann Carnes, and his great grandchildren; Alexander, Bradyn, Brylee, Jayden, PJ, Paisley, Alaina, Hadlee, Byron, Harry V, Hailey, Easton, Jaxson, Holden and Hudson. 

Memorial Services will be held Thursday March 7, 2024 
Visitation 10:00 am Followed by Memorial Service at 11:00 am 
Tom Fellows Community Center 
207 North Boulevard West 
Davenport, FL 33837 

Some of Baylis’ greatest loves were his dogs. If you would like to donate in his memory: 
Paws of Hope Dog Rescue
P. O. Box 2255 
Haines City, FL 33845  

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