Rarely has there ever been an individual who has made a greater contribution in the way of public service to the people of Santa Rosa County than now retired citizen F. M. (Bubba) Fisher.
Today, approaching 90, Bubba can look back with pride and satisfaction on the many years of successful leadership he provided and the events of storybook proportion that always seemed to go his way.
Bubba was born in Milton in 1923 to the family of Henry W. and Minnie L. Fisher, and enjoyed his youth while at the same time cultivating a healthy respect for the work ethic and the responsibilities that go with it. Those values have always been a part of his motivation and have remained so throughout his career and his retirement.
Bubba graduated from Milton High in the class of 1941 and worked and worked for his father at the Fisher Bottling Company (remember Pop Kola and Nu Grape) until December 8 of that year - the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor - when the United States entered the war.
The day following the invasion Bubba enlisted in the U. S. Navy and served just a month short of four years in the Pacific Theatre. He attained the rate of Chief Signalman before leaving the military to once again enter civilian life.
As a private citizen in 1946 Bubba bought the Fisher Bottling Company from his father, and marked another milestone in his life with his marriage to Mildred Craig of Crestview in July of that year. He and Mildred reared two sons, F. M. (Dusty) and Craig. Spiritual values were always an important part of the Fisher family life and they were life-long members of the First Baptist Church of Milton.
He was always a pioneer in the fight against county strong alcohol and liquor sales, and it was only after he retired and no longer carried the banner against it that current ordinances were enacted.
Bubba served two terms as a Milton City council member, two terms as a Santa Rosa county commissioner and four and a half terms as Santa Rosa county proper appraiser.
Those property appraiser days in the 1970s were some of bubba’s most productive, economically speaking, that the county had ever experienced and resulted in a never before - or since - cash contribution to county coffers. He successfully prosecuted and won lawsuits against five of the largest oil companies in the nation in his efforts to collect severance taxes for the county.
Millions of dollars for the county and school board was the result of that litigation involving giant corporations including Shell, Amoco, Exxon, Mobile and Louisiana Land and
Exploration. And Bubba says in his estimation the money was well spent in following years by public stewards on new schools and infrastructure and other worthwhile projects. It also resulted in a relaxation or reduction of county property taxes, a measure that was well received by property owners.
Another notable achievement marked to the credit of Bubba is the constitutional Amendment that changed the name of the Tax Collector to Property Appraiser.
It’s easy to see why Bubba and his wife are so well thought of today. A native son, Bubba succeed in bringing both honor and resources to the people of Santa Rosa County in his career of service, and he is noted for his integrity and concern in all matters both public and private.
It would be remiss not to mention and give credit to the most important individual in Bubba’s well-patterned life: the former Miss Mildred Craig of Crestview. She and Bubba were married in July of 1946 and this year will have spent 67 wonderful years together.
Today they live “…down the street” on Erudition Avenue in East Milton and are well thought of by their close friends; acquaintances; and even by many who have never met them and know them only by the reputations they have earned over the years.
What is not well known about Bubba is the “F. M.” that precedes his common name, given to him early on by his young friends. He says he doesn’t know when the “Bubba” was actually made. It just took shape gradually and has served him well over the years.
Only a “handful” of people know his Christian name is Francis Morris. But don’t go calling him that because he may not immediately realize who you’re calling. Actually, Mildred said she didn’t know what those letters in his name stood for - almost up to the time they were married.
Bubba has been retired from public life since 1984, and today is not as strong as he used to be. But he still has that inner energy and human kindness that lends him strength and makes him a person of presence who will ever wilt.
His legacy of dedication and commitment to the service of his fellow man will forever be indelibly linked to his name.