HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY

Lacoochee


Whatever Happened to the son of
Mark “Prof” and Alice St. Clair?

By JIM ST. CLAIR

It has been 79 years since I was born in Trilby to Mark and Alice St. Clair. I have been to a lot of places and have done a lot of things, but my thoughts often go back to the little town with the funny name where I grew up. It is the town that I have always loved: Lacoochee, Florida.

I came from a family of Florida educators. My grandfather taught for 51 years including two years at Pasco High School in Dade City and 18 years in Gulf High School in New Port Richey. My father taught in Trilby and Lacoochee for 23 years. He served as Pasco County School Superintendent for 8 years, then taught in Leesburg for ten years. My mother taught in Lacoochee, Dade City and Leesburg for 36 years.

I attended the first grade in Lacoochee with my mother as my teacher. I graduated from Lacoochee Junior High where my father was the principal. In 1948, I graduated from Pasco High School.

I was on track to become a teacher as soon as I graduated from the University of Florida, but the Korean War was going on. I was in the ROTC program and, when I graduated in 1952, I received a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force.

The Air Force sent me through their pilot training program. By the time I got my wings, the Korean War was over, so I was assigned to a Fighter Bomber Wing flying the F-86 fighter.

During the next four years, I spent a year in Germany, two years in France and a year in Italy sitting on nuclear alert in the F-86 and the F-100 single engine, single seat, fighter aircraft. While in France, I flew the F-84F with the French Air Force for several months and was the only American on the base.

After returning to the United States, my career took a different course. The Air Force sent me to The Ohio State University to get a Master of Science degree in the Geodetic Sciences which include geodesy, cartography and photogrammetry. For the next 16 years I was in the military mapping business.

I spent two years doing surveys in support of our Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile program. After that, I was able to get back into the flying business taking photographs that were used for making military maps. For eight years I flew the RC-130 four engine aircraft stuffed with high resolution cameras taking pictures throughout the United States, Central America, South America and South Vietnam. I spent three years as Commander of a mapping team in Asmara, Ethiopia and for two years I was the Commander of a military map making organization in Riverside, California.

My military career totaled 27 years. I retired as a Colonel in 1979 as the Director of the Defense Mapping Agency Aerospace Center in St. Louis, MO.

By that time, I had lived in 13 different states and four foreign countries. My family was tired of moving, so I got a job at McDonnell Douglas Corporation in St. Louis. There, I worked for 17 years as a Program Manager developing Mission Planning Systems for the Cruise Missile and for military aircraft. In 1996, I retired from McDonnell Douglas but worked four more years as a consultant to a mapping company in Virginia.

Regarding my family, in 1959 I married Carol Druhl from Jacksonville. We had two children, James and Denise. We divorced in 1983. In 1986, I married Anita Beardsley from St. Louis. We each have two children. We also have four grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Fortunately, they all live within 25 miles of our home in Chesterfield, MO.

Anita and I love to go to the Lacoochee reunions. I get to renew many old friendships. A lot of people talk to me about their mostly positive experiences when my mother or father taught them in Lacoochee. Anita and I never miss a reunion of the Pasco High School class of 1948. We plan to attend the next one in June 2011.

I am very pleased that Theresa Osbron Smith, J. W. Hunnicutt, and Nell Moody Woodcock created this website about East Pasco County. I look forward to reading the interesting tales that, I am sure, will be told by and about the people from my unforgettable hometown, Lacoochee, Florida.

Lacoochee front page