Wilson M. "Hap" Harper (pictured above) was a noted photo-journalist and nature photographer in Polk County. Born in Springhope, North Carolina on June 5, 1917, Harper enjoyed several careers before moving to Florida for health reasons in 1957. Among other things, he was a deep sea charter boat captain, a movie theater manager, an author, and a commercial farmer.
Harper became interested in photography in the 1950's and soon became a gifted nature photographer. He opened his own photograph studio in Haines City after his 1957 relocation to Florida. He joined The Ledger as a staff photographer in 1961and brought his talent for outdoor and nature photography to the newspaper's readers. He was credited with finding homes for hundreds of abandoned pets through his weekly photo feature in The Ledger of animals at the county pound.
Harper also published two books, the first a collection of his poetry entitled Songs of the Sea (1938) and the second a collection of his nature photographs entitled Observations (1970). Both volumes are in the "Lakeland Authors" collection of the Special Collections unit.
Harper died in Lakeland on November 26, 1971. He was 54.