Long before Blacksher White-Spunner helped develop some of the most popular subdivisions on the Gulf Coast, he was a teenager from Mobile, Alabama, willing to sacrifice his life for his country. Like millions of Americans, White-Spunner listened to news reports in stunned disbelief after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. “I signed up to be in the Marine Corps at a time when America was greatly united,” he said. “People were willing to die for their country. I felt that way, too.”
Now Chairman of the Board for the real estate business that bares his name, White-Spunner, 90, said he was fortunate. Fresh out of basic training, he was headed to Japan when U.S. President Harry Truman ordered an atomic bomb dropped on the island nation.
“It saved my life,” he said during a recent interview at his Dauphin Street office. “I spent a lot of time in occupied Japan, but I came back. A lot of others weren’t so lucky.”
He returned home and took advantage of the GI bill, earning a degree from Auburn University. After 18 months at a furniture company, White-Spunner went to work selling cars during the week and property on the weekends.
The experience of serving in the military at a young age, he believes, made him more grateful for the opportunities he encountered later.
“It would be good for every American boy and girl – rich or poor –to go into the military for 15 months or so. It’s a growing up period. It would help them realize how precious this freedom is.”
The veteran said he worries that younger generations may not truly appreciate the freedoms Americans enjoy: “Our freedom is fragile. So many people just accept it’s going to be there. We can lose it.”
As Americans observe Veteran’s Day, White-Spunner said it’s important to remember that men and women continue to die in military service for the United States, leaving behind families whose lives are changed forever. He remains grateful, he said, for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
He said President Theodore Roosevelt made a good point more than 100 years ago when he wrote in a letter to “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
“I still think the American flag should be greatly respected and we should stand up, salute it, put our hand over our heart,” White-Spunner said.”Even now I get very emotional when I see a big American flag. It makes me so proud to be a part of this country. At times, I put my hand over my heart just passing it, even at my age. It’s an emblem that has really helped unite this country.”
Blacksher White-Spunner, Chairman of the Board
A founding member of White-Spunner Realty in 1954, Blacksher White-Spunner now serves as the Chairman of the Board. He continues to be active in developing raw land for commercial and first class residential developments as well as neighborhood retail centers in Mobile and Baldwin County, encompassing a span of more than 60 years in real estate. He served in the U.S. Marines during World War II, then later graduated from Auburn University. A founding member of the Mobile Commercial Real Estate Exchange Club, he is a past Board Director of the Mobile YMCA and a Community Foundation of South Alabama Board Member.