Aldon Farmer Biography – 2013 FCSHOF Inductee
High schools in Fannin County have been fielding football teams since West Fannin High sent its first gridiron warriors into battle in the fall of 1955. Counting 2012, that means that a total of 78 football teams have taken the field to represent local high schools (21 at West Fannin from 1955 through 1975, 20 at East Fannin from 1956 through 1975, and 37 at Fannin County High from 1976 to the present). From all of those teams, only one player has ever earned the distinction of being named to an official all-state team in two separate seasons. That player is Aldon Farmer of East Fannin High School who was selected as a member of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Class C all-state squads in 1958 and 1959.
In recognition of his singular achievement of being a two-time all-state selection and in recognition of his athletic accomplishments for the East Fannin Wildcats, Aldon Farmer has been selected as a member of the inaugural Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame class of 2013.
Farmer grew up in the village of Mineral Bluff, Georgia with two brothers and one sister. The brothers did not play sports, but his sister Beulah Nichols was a basketball player of note with East Fannin from 1966 through 1968. Aldon entered East Fannin High School as a freshman in the fall of 1956, the second year of operation for the school. He made the varsity basketball team as a freshman, but did not try out for the football squad until his sophomore year beginning in 1957.
As Farmer describes it, his parents were a bit reluctant for him to participate in the game of football. Football has always been, and continues to be a rough sport, but the concern for player safety was not as prominent in 1957 as it is today. A scan of a 1957 East Fannin football team picture reveals that none of the players wore nose and teeth- protective face masks. Also, the playing field in those days was considerably more primitive than the well-manicured and rock-free surfaces of today. Ben Smith, who played for East Fannin in 1956, describes the first East Fannin practice field as “a hay field belonging to the Ralston family. It had the haystacks in it as the hay had just been cut and the stubs from the cut off hay were painful to fall on.”
1958 and 1959 were the halcyon days of football at East Fannin High School. In Farmer’s junior season of 1958, the Wildcats had their most experienced and talented team in their history. This team finished with an 8-2 record and won the championship of Region 4C East. The 1958 Wildcats rumbled over East Hall, Union County, Johnson High of Rome, Georgia School for the Deaf, Cherokee NC, Georgia Industrial Institute, Adairsville and White County. Farmer played end for this team on offense and was a standout linebacker on defense. He caught 7 touchdown passes in 1958 and emerged as the leader of the team. His performance and leadership was rewarded when he was named to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution All-State team.
Among the 1958 highlights for Farmer were his two touchdown pass receptions in the East Fannin homecoming game against White County. The Copper City Advance named him as the local lineman of the week for his performance in that game.
1959 was a rebuilding year for the East Fannin football team. 10 players from the 1958 championship team were lost to graduation. That is a staggering number for a small school like East Fannin. When Coach Babe Howell reviewed his troops at the beginning of fall practice, he only saw four returning lettermen. One of those returnees, however, was Aldon Farmer who was a pretty good foundation for building a new team. In recognition of his leadership role, Farmer was selected as one of the captains of the 1959 team.
The East Fannin record in 1959 slipped to a still very respectable 5-4-2. Almost unbelievably, the Wildcats again won the championship of Region 4C East before bowing to Dade County in the overall region championship game. Due to the lack of team experience and to a few key injuries to other players, Aldon Farmer was called upon to perform even more critical chores for this team.
Coach Howell switched the team offense from the T-formation to the single wing during the campaign and used Farmer at both end and wingback to get him involved in the offense as much as possible. Aldon remembers running a lot of ‘end arounds’ and wingback reverses during that season. As a result, Farmer again scored 7 touchdowns during the season, but this time four of the scores came by the rushing route and three by pass receptions. The Rome newspaper describes his exploits in the game against Johnson as follows: “Aldon Farmer, all-state end who alternates between the flank and backfield bulled over (for a touchdown) from the five in the third stanza—–Farmer was the defensive standout for East Fannin”.
Coach Babe Howell assessed his two Hall of Famers, Farmer and teammate David Turner, as follows following their high school careers: “Both were fine leaders, played almost every minute and made our season a winning one during a rebuilding year”. He added that Farmer “excels as a blocker and defender and does the kicking off and extra point booting”.
Following the 1959 season, Aldon Farmer was again named to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Class C all-state team. He was truly a great all-around athlete.
Following his graduation from East Fannin in 1960, Aldon served two tours with the Air Force: a 12-month tour in Seoul, Korea and an 18-month stint in Istanbul, Turkey. He later settled in Atlanta where he worked for AGL Resources (formerly Atlanta Gas Light Company) for 35 years in the IT (Information Technology) Department. He was a member of management for much of that time.
Currently, Aldon Farmer is retired and resides in Carnesville, Georgia with his wife Judith. They have four children. He is a very soft spoken and a humble man who was genuinely surprised to hear that he had been selected for the Hall of Fame. He enjoys golfing but describes himself as a “weekend duffer”. Based on his humility in describing his football exploits, that comment probably means that he is a candidate for the PGA Seniors Tour.