Gordon Farmer had lifelong penchant for the past

Gordon Farmer with one of his antique cars during a Chronicle interview in 2007
Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 3:02 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 2:02 AM
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Gordon Farmer was a lifelong advocate for pieces of the past.

Gordon Farmer looks over an old vehicle during a 1985 interview.  FILE/STAFF
Gordon Farmer looks over an old vehicle during a 1985 interview.

The engineer, entrepreneur, businessman and World War II veteran – who died Friday at the age of 91 – was also a nationally known collector featured in an episode of The History Channel’s American Pickers series.

In particular, the North Augusta man had a fondness for local history – and couldn’t bear to see things torn down, thrown away or destroyed.

“The man had an incredible eye – and he had a knack for just knowing what was historically significant,” said Nancy Glaser, the executive director of the Augusta Museum of History, where Farmer was a board member for 13 years in the 1980s and 1990s.

He was also a hardworking businessman. In 1946, after serving as a B-17 navigator during World War II, the Georgia Tech graduate created the Augusta Concrete Block Company, which evolved into one of the region’s most successful block manufacturers.

Decades later, the company’s many large warehouses offered Farmer the space to store and preserve vast collections of bicycles, cars, railroad relics, advertising pieces and other items.

“When buildings were being torn down, he’d try to take pieces and preserve that part of the history,” Glaser said. “He’s going to be incredibly missed in the community.”

Farmer was also willing to share his treasures.

“He gave us a 1928 fire engine,” she said. “And the 1875 cotton gin that’s on display in the (museum’s) textile area is something else he gave to us.”

As a museum board member in the 1990s, he helped plan and raise money for the new building.

Steam engines and mechanical devices – such as clocks, scales, scientific instruments and jukeboxes – were among his favorite things.

In June 2010, he was featured on American Pickers, in an episode aptly titled “Gordon’s Gold Mine,” which – he later told an Augusta Chronicle reporter – generated hundreds of calls from fellow collectors all over the country.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. today at Grace United Methodist Church.

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OpenCurtain 10/22/12 - 03:45 pm
Saw him on Pickers

He sure had a collection.

Will be looking to attend the estate sale.

CobaltGeorge 10/23/12 - 09:12 pm
My Son And I

knew Gordon for years and did a lot of key & Lock work for him. One of the few that had the opportunity to see the warehouse filled with collectors items that would make your heart skip a beat. You name it, he had it, originals and restored beauties.

He was a real pleasent and enjoyable man to have known. His estates will be talked about for years and I hope the son/family does the right thing and keep his legacy living.

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