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SCC author went ‘From Watermelon Inspector to the White House’

Published on: June 3, 2015

By KEVIN BRADY

H. Spencer Faircloth’s memoir documents his life from a small town in Georgia to his time serving in the White House. The next book signing is set for June 12 at the SouthShore Regional Library in Ruskin. Photos courtesy of Adam Porter.

H. Spencer Faircloth’s memoir documents his life from a small town in Georgia to his time serving in the White House. The next book signing is set for June 12 at the SouthShore Regional Library in Ruskin. Photos courtesy of Adam Porter.

Too many stories are lost to the vagaries of memory and time, lives well lived and abounding with hard-earned life lessons vanishing into the air when the last breath escapes.

H. Spencer Faircloth was determined his would not be one of those. The Sun City Center resident’s memoir, From Watermelon Inspector to the White House, captures a life that took Faircloth from the warm breezes of a summer farm in Georgia to the rarified air of the White House, serving presidents and politicians along the way before settling in South County, where he began a whole other life serving the public. The self-published book was just recently released.

Knowing the majority of his sunsets are in the past, Faircloth’s primary motivation for writing the book was to make sure his young relatives would know something of his extraordinary life and that of his beloved wife.

“My wife is dead. I have two nieces and nephews and I wanted to leave something, so I thought I would leave something so that when anyone asked about Aunt Mary or Uncle Spencer they could say ‘Here’s the book.’”

Faircloth’s story is one of hard work and well-earned promotion that took him to the highest corridors of power during some of the most difficult times in U.S. history, something that he never envisioned growing up.

H. Spencer Faircloth with then-Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter. Faircloth and Carter grew up together.

H. Spencer Faircloth with then-Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter. Faircloth and Carter grew up together.

“For an old country boy from South Georgia (President Jimmy Carter lived nearby), I never dreamed of all the adventures my journey through life would produce during my 80-plus years on this earth,” wrote Faircloth in his memoir. “I began life with two loving Christian parents who taught me I could achieve any goal if I worked hard and followed my Christian upbringing.”

And that he did, graduating from Leesburg High School in 1947 before entering Oxford College at Emory University.

“It was clear I had not been exposed to as comprehensive an education as many of my fellow students,” Faircloth said. “I was a young man from a small Southern town, and I still had a lot more to learn. But I was also the son of parents who taught me the value of working and learning and challenging myself, so I never shied away from hard or demanding work.”

Decades of service in the U.S. Air Force followed, including two tours in Cold War Europe and working for the White House.

H. Spencer Faircloth, left, with President Gerald Ford, right, and James Oates, a renowned figure in U.S. political life at the time who played an important role in Faircloth’s life. Ford, whom Faircloth recalls as “very gentlemanly and someone who treated people fairly and was not arrogant,” assumed the presidency in the wake of Richard Nixon’s resignation.

H. Spencer Faircloth, left, with President Gerald Ford, right, and James Oates, a renowned figure in U.S. political life at the time who played an important role in Faircloth’s life. Ford, whom Faircloth recalls as “very gentlemanly and someone who treated people fairly and was not arrogant,” assumed the presidency in the wake of Richard Nixon’s resignation.

“I approached each new challenge with the same understanding and determination as that first semester of college,” he said. “Maybe I was not as equipped as I could have been, but I could learn and I would not quit. With each success, my bosses continued to recommend me for more important and more challenging work, and each recommendation gave me the confidence I needed to rise to the next challenge.”

The book details Faircloth’s brushes with actors and fighter aces, mob bosses and presidents. His work saw Faircloth “dig civilization out from the ruins of war, helped feed a continent, flown around the world in service to my country and her veterans, and built a life with the most amazing woman I have ever known [his wife, Mary, whom he describes as his ‘best buddy.’ They were married for 52 years until her death in 2007].”

Adam Porter, a veteran author and editor, was integral in the project, helping Faircloth put the 214-page memoir together, an opportunity he couldn’t refuse the more he learned of Faircloth’s past.

“It’s a phenomenal story,” Porter said. “He has been working on this memoir for five or six years, and I started helping him with it about two years ago. I did an overview of his notes and I just let him tell me stories. He just has that natural gift of telling a story in a way that just leaves you wanting to hear more.”

Beyond Faircloth’s ability to weave a good yarn, his stories are also of significant historical interest, said Porter, who spent 50-60 hours interviewing Faircloth. “He has first-hand information on letters and conversations between individuals that we read about in history books.”

“This incredible journey has taught me many important lessons and left me with countless stories of historic events and incomparable people. I feel blessed to have lived this life, and I hope my stories are an equal blessing to you,” said Faircloth, who in addition to being a retired trust officer with SunTrust bank in Sun City Center is also a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and former chairman of the President’s Jobs For Veterans Committee.

SCC-AUTHOR-BOOK-COVERBeyond leaving a legacy to his family, Faircloth believes his story will also resonate with young people today. His advice to the young? “Don’t look for handouts. Take care of yourself. The greatest pride is when you don’t have to go to anyone. You can do it yourself. And don’t be afraid to help other people and then people will help you.”

From Watermelon Inspector to the White House  is available online from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. South Shore-area book signings are also being planned, with the next slated for from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, June 12, at the SouthShore Regional Library in Ruskin, 15816 Beth Shields Way. The book retails for $19.99  softcover, and $29.99 hardcover. However, those who show up for a book signing can get a signed copy at an author-discounted price of $16 and $25, respectively.

Reviews

Although his memoir has only been on the bookshelves for less than a month, Faircloth’s first foray into publishing is already drawing some rave reader reviews online.

“A page-turning trip through time. Lt. Col. Faircloth takes us on a journey from the Depression-era South to hallowed halls of the White House. From growing up down the road from Carter to working with a famous Tuskegee Airman to running a committee in the Nixon White House … you get up close and personal portraits of some of the biggest names of the 20th century. I particularly enjoyed the sections on rebuilding post-war Europe, and the part with the camel on the airplane had me laughing out loud. All that plus the drama of the space race, shady carpetbagging developers and an honest-to-goodness love story. This is a fantastic story about a fantastic life.”
– Ed Dixon review on Amazon.com

“If you enjoy biographies, grab this book and settle down for a great read. Go on the journey beginning in rural Georgia and if you have the chance, get to Sun City Center, Florida, to meet this amazing gentleman in person. Great story.”
– Brian Pomeroy on Amazon.com

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