Alfred’s grand vision for Northwest Florida included transforming Port St. Joe into a well-planned, modern city. He envisioned a paper mill on the banks of St. Joseph Bay as a large regional employment center. Alfred, with Ed Ball acting as his agent, bought tens of thousands of acres in the Panhandle, including most of the city of Port St. Joe, the Apalachicola Northern Railroad, and the St. Joseph Telephone & Telegraph Company.
During Alfred’s last years, he was intensely focused on the reconstruction of the dilapidated Port St. Joe. His dream was to turn the town into a workers’ utopia, where a large paper mill provided employment and a deep harbor provided access to oceangoing ships. Alfred had hired renowned city planner Earle S. Draper to draw plans for the rejuvenated Port St. Joe.
But he never realized that dream. Alfred I. duPont died in Jacksonville in 1935 at the age of 70. His last words: “Thank you doctors. Thank you nurses. I’ll be all right in a few days.” It would be up to his beloved wife Jessie, pugnacious brother-in-law Ed Ball, and a succession of Trustees to see that his greater vision was carried out.