Blacksher White-Spunner was a visionary. He saw the potential for his beloved city of Mobile.

He foresaw, before anyone else, the westward growth of Mobile. The saying in the 1800s about America’s growth became the Blacksher White-Spunner approach: “Go West, young man,”  only he was thinking of West Mobile.

At a reception, someone asked, “What name of a person immediately triggers thoughts of ‘Mobile?’ What is the most ‘Mobile’ name?” Several names were tossed about. Then someone said, “Blacksher White-Spunner.” That ended the speculation.  

His passion for Mobile undergirded his almost century of development and building.

Jeptha Blacksher White-Spunner, Sr. has built his last project. He has died in his beloved Mobile.

He was a proud and loyal native Mobilian, born here on March 9, 1927. Growing up in Mobile, he summered in Point Clear on Mobile Bay. His boyhood friendships covered both sides of the Bay. He carried many of those friendships into adulthood and business. Blessed with such a long life, he came to know and befriend the children and grandchildren of those he grew up with.

When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, Blacksher was a middle teen. Many his age were hoping the war would be over before they had to go and fight. Not young Blacksher. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at age 17 and served in the Pacific. Semper fi.

After his service, he enrolled in Auburn and graduated in 1949 with a degree in Industrial Engineering. He returned to Mobile, and together with his wife, Peggy, and the friendships from his youth, he began investing in and developing neighborhoods throughout Mobile.

Co-founder of Cummings & White-Spunner, and founding partner of White-Spunner & Associates, which is today White-Spunner Realty, Inc., he passed a business legacy to the second and third generations.

Blacksher was involved in multiple neighborhood developments: Brookwood, Ravine Woods, Kingswood and Sugar Creek, and others. He began developing large multi-state commercial, distribution and warehouse projects, which thrived.  

He was a true visionary, constantly thinking of ways to improve each project and deal. He loved working with people and perfecting the art of the deal. His love for work and family kept him on the job until the week before he died.

About eight years ago, when Blacksher was still about as mobile as ever, he guided a driving tour around Mobile and the county with his then-County Commissioner Jerry Carl.

“Blacksher knew the real estate, buildings and neighborhoods like the back of his hand. He could tell you what used to be at a location, who had owned it, and what they did with it,” said Carl. “He could also tell you his own mistakes. ‘I should have done this or that.’

“He was the unofficial real estate historian of Mobile County. He took much local knowledge with him when he died, but he left a legacy through his family and business.”

Blacksher’s obituary tells the story of that legacy:

“Blacksher leaves a legacy of humility, hard work, community development and service rooted in his faith in God to his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and future generations. He gave and encouraged others to give to local organizations and charitable entities, often without acknowledgment. He had given away his entire net worth before dying. He always said, ‘Do the work, and results will shake out. Help others, and don't worry about what you need. Focus on helping others, and your life will be better.’

“He was kind and generous, he loved to laugh and have fun, and he loved to work and find ways to improve and grow Mobile. Mostly, he loved people. He never met a stranger. He genuinely wanted to know about those he met on his path. He always reminded his family and those around him, 'This is a people's world, it's people, people, people.' Blacksher loved fishing, being with his family at the beach and being a part of his great children's sports lives. He loved the United States of America, the freedom we enjoy, and its promise for those who work hard. Every prayer he said included a prayer for our nation, our military and the freedom we enjoy.

“Blacksher was an active member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, where he will have his memorial on February 3. He was a strong patriarch for his family and a friend to all he met. He was a father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, always encouraging his loved ones to put the Lord first, keep the family close and work hard together.

Blacksher was blessed to live so long that he suffered much loss. He was preceded in death by his parents Stratford Eyre and Barbara Blacksher White-Spunner, his wife, Peggy Ann Barks White-Spunner, his son Jeptha Blacksher "Jay" White-Spunner, Jr., his grandsons Jeptha Blacksher White-Spunner, III, John White-Spunner, Jr. and his brothers Stratford Eyre White-Spunner, Jr. and Damer Sands White-Spunner, Sr. 

Thinking of the blessings from the service of others, Blacksher had his caregivers and others noted in his obituary: "[A] special acknowledgment of gratitude and praise to Debbie Sigler who provided exceptional love and care to our Mom and Dad for 14 years. To the numerous caregivers through the years please know we are grateful, especially Geraldine and Florence. To Michelle Freeman, who stepped into rather large shoes these last two weeks and assisted our family in carrying our Dad home, we are grateful. And to the staff at Mobile Infirmary, Saad's Hospice Care, and the Ascension Funeral Group, thank you.”

Blacksher White-Spunner will continue to make a difference to his beloved community that goes beyond his death. He asked for no flowers but instead for donations to be made to one of these charities he loved and generously supported: The Drug Education Council, 3000 Television Ave. Mobile, AL 36606; The Infirmary Foundation, 5 Mobile Infirmary Circle Mobile, AL 36607; or Vets Recover, 1200 SpringHill Avenue Mobile, AL 36604.

Visitation is at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 3, at Blacksher’s home church,  St. Paul's Episcopal Church in the Parish Hall. A Memorial Service will be held at 11 a.m. at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in “the Big Church.”  

There will be a Celebration of Life at noon at the Mobile Country Club. A private family graveside service will take place at Old Spring Hill Cemetery. Arrangements are by Ascension Funeral Home, 1016 Hillcrest Road, Mobile, AL 36695.

Who led the building of Mobile from the 1950s on? Blacksher White-Spunner.

Who will lead the building of Mobile for future generations? The legatees of Blacksher White-Spunner are his business associates, family, and friends who inherited his passion and vision for the Mobile of the future.  

‘Do the work and results will shake out.' — Blacksher White-Spunner

Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

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