CLEWISTON — The week of Sept. 14, City of Clewiston officials and United States Sugar leaders held a ceremony to rename and dedicate the Clewiston Golf Course in honor of former U.S. Sugar President and CEO J. Nelson Fairbanks. Going forward, the golf course will be known as the J. Nelson Fairbanks Clewiston Golf Course in honor of his commitment to the community and his love for the game of golf.
“From his involvement in his church, local charitable organizations and the Clewiston Golf Course, Nelson Fairbanks fully embraced the Clewiston community,” said Robert H. Buker, Jr., president and CEO of U.S. Sugar. “He is missed, and it is good to see his life and legacy memorialized at his favorite golf course that now bears his name.”
“Nelson was a man of faith, and his love of his family and community shined through during his time in leadership at U.S. Sugar,” said Mali Gardner, mayor of Clewiston. “The City of Clewiston appreciates the support he generated for our local golf course, which we are proud to dedicate in his honor.”
Fairbanks served as president and chief executive officer of U.S Sugar from 1987 until his retirement in 2000. Fairbanks was known for his love of sports and his love of the Clewiston community. Held annually since 2014 until his passing, the J. Nelson Fairbanks/U.S. Sugar Golf Tournament raised more than $216,000 for Clewiston’s golf course and recreational programs. Attending the ceremony and sign unveiling were representatives from U.S. Sugar, community leaders, and city officials. The J. Nelson Fairbanks Clewiston Golf Course is now open to the public.
In 2016, the City of Clewiston previously unveiled a plaque christening the back nine holes, “The Fairbanks Back Nine.” As a final honor, a substantial memorial donation and the renaming of the golf course will replace the annual tournament. Fairbanks lived in Clewiston for over 40 years and raised his family there. After retirement, he and his wife moved to Windermere to be near his family, which includes his beloved wife of 52 years, Anita, his children: Vanessa Fairbanks (John) Hodak of Orlando, and Jay (Olga Penton) Fairbanks of Boone, N.C., and his grandchildren: Hanna Hodak and Dylan Hodak and Preston Fairbanks and Lilly Fairbanks.
The ceremony brought together members of the City of Clewiston leadership, including Mayor Mali Gardner and City Commissioners Julio Rodriguez and Melanie McGahee. U.S. Sugar leaders in attendance included President and CEO Robert H. Buker, Senior Vice President for Agricultural Operations Ken McDuffie, Senior Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Business Development Bubba Wade and Vice President for Strategic Environmental Affairs Michael Ellis.