Isaac Spence, the Great-Great-Grandfather
In 1850s, Isaac came to the Choctawhatchee Bay area. He began farming in the Alaqua Creek area of Walton County, near Freeport, Florida.
Sylvester Spence, the Great-Grandfather
Sylvester started a sawmill in the late 1800s, where Turkey Creek meets the head waters of Boggy Bayou in Niceville. By the end of the century the sawmill was cutting 50,000 board feet per day and it became one of the largest sawmills in North Florida. Soon, the timber was used to build railroads from east to west across the USA. He owned much of what is now Okaloosa County. Land he purchased from the Federal government for 25 cents per acre.
Walter S. Spence, the Grandfather
Walter worked in the family sawmill business as a woods-rider. He supervised turpentine operation from horseback. In the early 1930s, he started a dairy in the area where the Climatic hanger is now on Eglin Air Force Base. In 1932, he and his brother Wallace began a fish company on Boggy Bayou. They also started building commercial fishing boats in Valparaiso in the early 1940s. During WWII, Mr. Spence and his brothers refused to let folks starve in the small hamlet of Destin where food staples were dire. Regular supplies of mullet were transported by boat feeding neighbors and friends across Choctawhatchee bay. In the mid-1940s, they began Gulf Coast Building Supply Company and millworks in Valparaiso. For 28 years, Mr. Spence served as one of Okaloosa’s earliest county commissioners.
Walter Francis Spence, the Father
Walter Francis was born in the Village of Bolton. He earned an engineering degree from Tulane University, and began working with the Air Force at Eglin in the 1950s. When he became president of the Chamber of Commerce, he came up with the idea of the Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival and worked towards building the Mid-Bay Bridge in 1977. He was also the one who formed the Spence Brothers Properties. He passed away January 16, 2014, but his contributions to the Northwest Florida will be felt for the decades to come.
Jerry M. Spence, the President
Jerry continues the family legacy of servant leadership in both his business and community service. He believes a clients needs come before the bottom line.