Iconic University of Florida fan George Edmondson has passed away. Edmondson, better known as Mr. Two Bits, was 97.
Edmondson attended The Citadel and served as a Navy fighter pilot during World War II. It was shortly after that he moved to Tampa to begin his career in the insurance business. Edmondson traveled to Gainesville with friends in 1949 but didn’t like the cacophony of booing he heard from the stands when the team took the field.
“I was appalled,” Edmondson told the Orlando Sentinel in 2008. “It was terrible. I didn’t understand it. How could you boo your own team? They were just college kids out there trying their hardest.”
Edmondson reacted with his now famous cheer, “Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar. All for the Gators stand up and holler!” He encouraged others around him to turn their jeers to cheers and was successful.
He continued on for more than 60 years. He began in the stands but in was asked to lead his now famous cheer from the field before games in the 1970s. Edmondson briefly retired from his on field cheerleading at the end of the 1998 season but was talked back into the role before his official retirement in 2008. Edmondson was inducted into the Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as an “honorary letter winner” in 1992 and named an honorary alumnus of the university in 2005. His distinctive yellow dress shirt, orange and blue tie and seersucker pants became as iconic as his cheer and in the years following his retirement many celebrities and students have been honored as guest “Two Bits.”
Edmondson and his wife Jane have been supporters of the university both on and off the football field. The two have donated to projects such as the building and renovation of the Otis Hawkins Center as well as Farrior Hall. They have contributed to cheerleading scholarships as well.
A celebration of life will be held in Tampa in August, and all friends of the Gators are invited to attend. Details will be announced at a later date.
George is survived by his wife, Jane, as well as three children, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.