Alabama Academy of Honor


Forrest Hood James, Jr.

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1979.



Governor Fob James was born in Lanett, Alabama, in 1934. He received his bachelor's degree from Auburn University in Civil Engineering, where he played on the varsity football team. He was selected All-American Halfback and the Most Valuable Player in the SEC in 1955. Serving two years as a lieutenant in the U. S. Corps of Engineers, he was selected as the Outstanding Soldier-Athlete in U. S. Armed Forces in 1957. During the 1956 season he played professional football with the Montreal Alouettes.

In 1958 and 1959 he was a heavy construction engineer with Burford Tractor Company in Montgomery and in 1960 and 1961 a heavy construction superintendent with Laidlaw Contracting Company in Mobile. In 1962 he organized the Diversified Products Corporation which grew from a company with two employees to an employer of over 1,500 with plants in Opelika, Los Angeles, and Toronto.

He has been active with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Boy Scouts of America, Alabama Safety Council, Opelika Chamber of Commerce, and the Future Farmers of America Foundation. From 1972 to 1974 he served as president of Alabama Citizens for Transportation, a statewide committee which developed a twenty-year highway program subsequently adopted by the Alabama Legislature.

Fob James was inaugurated January 15,1979, as the 53rd person to serve as Governor of the State of Alabama. In 1994 he was elected again. He is the only Alabamian who first was elected governor as a Democrat (1978) and then later switched parties to be re-elected as a Republican. (1994)

Governor James is married to the former Bobby Mooney and they have three sons: Fob, III, Tim, and Pat.