AUDACITY IS KEY NOTE TO WHITEHAIR
by Allen Morris
Herald Political Editor
Audacity is the word for Francis Whitehair; audacity that means self-assurance, hardihood, daring disregard of danger and convention.
It took "daring disregard of danger" for Francis Whitehair to stand at the gate of his home and defy with blazing eyes the menace of a multitude of hooded Knights of the Klu Klux Klan who already mutilated one of Whitehair's political lieutenants. (this may be the incident referred to, middle of article)
It took "hardihood" for Francis Whitehair, left to his own resources at 10, to beat his way upward and become in his 30s one of the nation's outstanding young lawyers and partner in a law firm of statewide distinction.
It took "self-assurance" for Francis Whitehair to take over a long established political machine and run it with technique that is the envy of practical politicians everywhere in Florida; to hold his machine intact when those elsewhere were cracking up.
It took "daring disregard of convention" for Francis Whitehair to summon an erring county commissioner to his law office, lay a letter of resignation before him with the command to sign, and then whisk the bewildered man to Tallahassee to deliver the resignation in person to the governor.
Francis Whitehair is a man admired or hated, but never ignored. He seems to be convinced that whatever stand he takes upon any situation is the right and proper one.Powerfully built, he appears ready to bulldog his way through any obstacle and to crush ruthlessly anyone who opposes him. Sometimes when talking of a foe, he unconsciously works his hands as though squeezing the antagonist in a vise.
It is typical of the outlook of Francis Whitehair--some might call it arrogance--that when he went to Tallahassee to lobby for the passage of certain legislation by an assembly composed mainly of small towners, he rode about the capital in a car a half block long, driven by a liveried chauffeur.
He just didn't realize that this display of grandeur wouldn't sit well with those whose favor he solicited.
Whitehair denies he is a politician. He says--and face-to-face he sounds mighty convincing--that he has intervened in Volusia county government only as a large taxpayer determined to stop waste of tax dollars. In that, he says, he has been successful.
The gubernatorial aspirant came to the law firm of Fish and Landis from nearby Stetson as a law clerk. At least, that is what he was called. Actually he swept out the office, chauffeured for Judge Fish, and served as general factorum.
He laughs when he things what a law clerk of the present generation would do if he was asked to dust the desk or empty the wastebasket--so great a change has come in the legal profession within the past two decades.
Under the tutelage of those two great lawyers, Bert Fish, now American minister to Egypt, and the late Cary D. Landis, attorney general, the young lawyer progressed rapidly and was admitted to a junior partnership after six years.
Whitehair is intensively devoted to his family. Mrs. Whitehair and their three girls, and he has lavished upon the children all the good things that money can buy. Yet, the teenage girls never have attended a party away from their home after dark.