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Hillsborough Biographies
BROREIN, William G.

Transcribed from:  The History of Florida:  Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol. 
II, page 10, 1923.

BROREIN, WILLIAM G. Since the history of any country or community is but the biography of
those who have played the most important part in its affairs, so any adequate description
of the importance, development and growth of Tampa and Hillsborough County and several other
adjacent counties in Southwest Florida, must necessarily include something of the character
and achievements of WILLIAM G. BROREIN who, for two decades has been one of the most prominent
characters in its material development, as well as a recognized leader in all matters
pertaining to its moral and social uplift and other public progress. During this time, in
addition to the duties of conducting the affairs of its most extensive public utility enter-
prise, he has been a leader of and filled the office of head of nearly every organization
conducted for the general public welfare. It is therefore fitting that we here give a brief
biographical sketch of Mr. BROREIN and some of these achievements.

The purpose of biography, and probably its only justification, is to set forth those achievements
of our fellows in which they have excelled and those attributes of character possessed and
displayed by them, which seem to have been most potent in such accomplishments, to the end
that others may strive to emulate them.

Although "W. G." BROREIN, as he is most familiarly known, is a man of versatile character
and amazing energy, if those who know him best and are most capable of appreciating his qualities
of mind and traits of character were asked to describe some one note or quality which has
contributed most to his achievements and to his great popularity, they would agree that it
is his exemplification of the adage "who would have friends must be a friend". W. G. BROREIN
is a friend to all and to every worthy thing or cause. Though possessing great force of
character and finely discriminating qualities of mind, he seems to exemplify the spirit of
consideration for the views of others which brings differing opinions and influences together
in thorough co-operation.

During the entire period of his residence in Florida, he has been president and general
manager of the Peninsular Telephone Company, operating the telephone exchanges and toll
lines throughout Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee and Pinellas counties. No public service is
more calculated to make for the unpopularity of its management than the telephone. Yet,
every year of his management of this corporation whose business and operations now extend
into many millions of dollars, has increased his popularity throughout the field of its
operation. Between the company itself and the public there exists an attitude of co-operation
and friendliness that is unusual for a public service corporation to receive and the company
has been extolled editorially by at least one leading daily journal of Tampa as a model corporation
whose business practices have always placed community interests first, and whose methods of
fair dealing are worthy of the commendation of the entire community.

Mr. BROREIN was one of several children and was born on a farm near Marion, Ohio, October 30,
1861. When he was four years of age his parents removed from there to Auglaize County, Ohio,
where they resided during his minority and where he attended the public schools. He later
attended the Northwestern Ohio Normal School, and like many other prominent men, began his
career as a teacher in the public schools in which profession he remained for several years.
On October 29, 1883, Mr. BROREIN was united in marriage to SARAH E. BUTCHER, at Wapakoneta,
Ohio, and they have one daughter, EDNA. In 1886, he engaged in mercantile and manufacturing
business, at Buckland, Ohio, in which he continued until 1901, and established a reputation
for the highest business integrity and sound business methods. During this period he also
became active in all matters of public interest, and in politics as a democrat, serving from
1893 to 1897 as a member of the lower house of the Ohio State Assembly, and from 1897 to 1901
as a member of the Senate from the Thirty-second District of Ohio. As a member of the Legislature
he took an active part in all progressive legislation, being author of the bill which became
law, remaining in effect for many years, reorganizing the public schools of Ohio on a modern
basis. He represented the Democratic minority on all important committees during this period,
serving on the Finance Committee during the entire period in both houses. While in the Senate
he served with President Harding, then in the Ohio Senate, being elected president pro-tem
while Harding, as Lieutenant Governor, was president of the Senate.

It was about the time of the expiration of this period of service in the Ohio State Assembly
that he perceived the possibilities of the development of the telephone interests of Tampa and
Southwest Florida, up to that time almost completely neglected, there being only a few small
exchanges with substantially no toll line service south of Jacksonville. The principal exchange
operated in Southwest Florida was that of the Bell Company at Tampa, with some 300 old-fashioned
telephones in service. Having procured in the name of himself and his associates a franchise
for the installation and operation of a telephone system in the City of Tampa early in the
year 1901, he returned to Ohio and enlisted capital among the local friends who had learned
to repose confidence in his integrity and business judgment during his years of business
activity in their midst, and investing along with them the greater part of his personal holdings,
he adopted Tampa and Florida as his home. Since that time he has been one of the most active
and progressive business men in the state, as well as a leader in all matters of social
uplifts and commercial and economic advancement.

As president of the Florida State Telephone Association for many years, he was largely instrumental
in securing the enactment by the Florida Legislature of those laws placing the telephone properties
of the state under commission regulation as to rates, and other matters connected with their
operation in which the telephone patrons and public generally could be interested. The growth
of this enterprise has been one of the most phenomenal of any public utility throughout the
country. It began with an authorized capital stock of $50,000 in 1901, and before the end of
the first year had increased its authorized capital stock to $500,000 of stock and an equal
amount of bonds, and installed small exchanges, ranging from 50 to 300 telephones, connected
by toll lines, in several counties. The total number of subscribers of this system at the
time of installation did not exceed 800. At the time of this writing its subscription list
approximates 20,000 subscribers, 10,000 of which are on the Tampa main and several sub-exchanges,
and the remainder on the fourteen other exchanges operated at Bradentown, Palmetto, Sarasota,
Bartow, Lakeland, Plant City, Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, Mulberry, Largo, Winter Haven,
Frostproof, Lake Wales and Haines City. All these exchanges and other communities are connected
by a system of more than 2,000 miles of metallic toll circuits, extending throughout the
counties of Hillsboro, Polk, Manatee and Pinellas, with connections with all other toll
lines and exchanges throughout the state, as well as connection with the Bell system giving
long distance service throughout the country.

The confidence reposed in Mr. BROREIN by his co-investors has been equaled by the telephone
using patrons his company has served, and in connection with the telephone service under his
management, his name is probably better known and more freely used than the name of the company
itself; and it is safe to say that no man within the territory of his activities shares a greater
degree of popularity than does WILLIAM G. BROREIN.

There is a saying "if you want something done get a busy man to do it" and this is another
adage exemplified by Mr. BROREIN. As would be expected, the demands upon Mr. BROREIN's time
for the conduct of these telephone interests, in order to maintain the high standard of
service the company has at all times maintained, would have been sufficient to prevent most
men, even of the highest ability, from engaging in other activities; but not so with W. G.
BROREIN. As has already been said, he has, during this time, been a leader in all matters
of general public interest, serving from 1916 to 1918 as president of the Tampa Board of Trade,
from 1918 to 1919 as president of the Tampa Rotary Club, and at the present time and for
several years past, as president of the Tampa young Men's Christian Association and also
the Tampa Associated Charities. His most notable work in Florida has been rendered in connection
with the South Florida Fair Association, of which he is president, and it is largely due
to his personal efforts that this annual exhibition has attained such success, attracting
as it does, national and international attention. He served as a member of the Charter
Board which drew up the charter under which the government of Tampa is now operated; as
chairman of the Florida Centennial Purchase Exhibition Commission appointed by the Legislature;
as chairman of the commission appointed by Governor Trammell in 1917 to investigate the
needs of the Institution for Feeble Minded, and upon whose recommendation to the Legislature
the present Institution for Feeble Minded was established at Gainesville. He is a member
of the Knights of Pythias and a member and active worker in the First Christian Church of

Thus is briefly summarized the growth of one of the industries of Southwestern Florida which
has had no small part in the remarkable development of this section of the state, and the
accomplishments and activities of a man whose time and talent have been freely given in the
interest of community up building and whose influence has been and will continue to be,
far reaching.
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