July 20, 1926 – June 6, 2012
Franc White, 85, producer of the Southern Sportsman television show from 1972 to 1996, died June 6, 2012 at his home in Hookerton, NC. He worked as a B-25 Mitchell bomber mechanic; served in the 91st Mechanical Cavalry Recon Squadron in World War II; and also served in World War II as a correspondent for the “Stars and Stripes” in Italy. He was a private pilot, restaurateur, radio announcer, public relations manager, cookbook author, salesman, newspaper columnist, television weather and sports commentator, and artist.
However, he is best known as an expert outdoor sportsman, writer, and conservationist. He made the Southern Sportsman show an institution in households throughout the South and even as far as California for over 25 years.
The show was unique in its appeal to every family member. Outdoor sportsmen saw their favorite pastime through the eyes of a man as adept with following birds and fish with a camera as he was with a shotgun and fishing rod.
His show included one of the foremost live cooking segments on television, much to the benefit of and greatly enjoyed by his last two ex-wives. He was widely known as “Julia Child of the Wild.” The show’s cooking segment and his recipe books especially appealed to his female viewers who were eager to learn how to prepare the day’s hunting and fishing prizes.
He ended each show encouraging everyone to “Do yourself a favor, take a kid fishing.” His guests included famous celebrities such as Joan Fontaine and Cale Yarborough as well as local sporting enthusiasts including their sons and daughters.
Although thousands have his cookbooks, tapes of his shows, and memories of “Stalking the Wily Whelk,” “Goodbye, Little Tennessee,” and the “Poor Man’s Tarpon,” few are aware of the extent of his conservation and environmental efforts.
He successfully stopped commercialization on many of the Carolina islands, one of which was the last nesting ground for some Atlantic sea turtles.
He uncovered and publicly denounced some chemical plants freely draining millions of gallons of water from NC aquifers; factories dumping pollutants resulting in the denuding of mountain tops and forests; and manufacturing plants dumping sewage and byproducts that were ruining rivers and watersheds.
He agonized over the loss in just half a century of so many natural resources and the deterioration of the planet – a loss he felt his grandchildren and great-grandchildren would probably never comprehend, yet have to endure.
Franc had an outstanding command of the English language and a keen sense of humor. At a family reunion he noted that his sister “cut ham so thin it only had one side.”
He did not want a funeral, visitation, or memorial. He wanted his ashes and those of his beloved dog, Fracas, strewn in the Linville River so the trout and his favorite sporting fish, smallmouth bass, “can get even.”
He is survived by his two daughters, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
In 1966 Franc was named “Conservation Educator of the Year” by the N.C. Wildlife Federation, an organization he long supported. Franc and his family ask that in lieu of flowers or cards, please join them in launching the Franc White Legacy Fund for Conservation Education, contributions c/o N.C. Wildlife Federation at 1024 Washington St., Raleigh, NC 27605 or (800) 264-6293 or online at https://www.ncwf.org/support/honor.php .
Shumate-Faulk Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc. of Goldsboro is serving the family of Franc White and online condolences may be directed to www.shumate-faulk.com.