“He had a wonderful sense of humor; he laughed more than he growled.”
– Neil Armstrong
Throughout this paper, you will find mention of Julian Scheer’s name here and there, but the truth is that Scheer’s remarkable and tenacious mind set the tone and tenor of many of CFFC’s efforts, most notably The Bugle. Scheer’s conservation activism proved to be a family affair, with his wife Sue and daughter Hilary also dedicating countless hours over the past several decades towards preserving Fauquier County’s rural beauty and lifestyle.
Born in Richmond, a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, and a WWII veteran, Julian Scheer spent his early career as a columnist for the Charlotte News. While covering the 1960 presidential campaign of John Kennedy, Scheer met and befriended Robert F.”Bobby” Kennedy. When John Kennedy became president, he asked Scheer to work for NASA, to create and implement a strategy for the organization’s public relations plan.
As it turned out, Scheer stayed nine years as NASA’s Assistant Administrator in charge of Public Affairs, responsible for interpreting the Space Program to the public during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. As a former newspaper man, Scheer knew how to collaborate with the press to make the space missions compelling to the average American. He was a stickler for transparency, creating an open program for all the public to participate, to include: putting cameras on spacecrafts; sending programs to schools throughout the country; and creating a large facility at Cape Canaveral for the public to view the launches. Scheer invited the top artists of the country to interpret the programs. He sent astronauts as ambassadors throughout the world.
Scheer also helped craft the wording on the plaque that was left during the first moon walk, and accompanied the Apollo 11 astronauts on their world tour.
Neil Armstrong once said of Scheer, “he had a wonderful sense of humor; he laughed more than he growled.”
Scheer’s humor landed on Fauquier County doorsteps in the form of the Bugle in early 1997. It caused quite the stir. While reactions were mixed, everyone seemed to be talking about it. And a few days later, more than 600 people—an unprecedented crowd—attended a public forum to express their opinions about development deals on the docket in Fauquier County.
When Disney announced plans to build a 400-acre theme park, it was Scheer’s Protect Historic America that played a critical role in saving rural Virginia from the entertainment conglomerate.
More than a series of successful PR campaigns, Scheer’s life was a testament to curiosity and conservation. He is an indelible part of American history and CFFC’s legacy.