James Duke Fulcher
Section 19, Block 19, Lot 14, Space NE
James Duke Fulcher was born in Pollocksville, North Carolina. Around 1913, when he was a teenager, his family moved to Norfolk County. His mother started a small hand laundry and his father found employment as the foreman of Dye Farm in Princess Anne County, which was located near what is now Norfolk International Airport. James would visit his father at work and watch the farm workers loading and unloading baskets of produce.
1935, these casual observations led Fulcher to start a business buying and selling baskets and other receptacles for produce, such as crates and sacks. Much of his merchandise was purchased at low prices after being used by grocers, or simply rescued from the trash. He and his family would then refurbish them in his backyard on C Ave in Huntersville, and resell them to local farmers. As the business expanded, he leased a storefront at Market Street in downtown Norfolk, at the present site of Macarthur Mall. As the City of Norfolk grew and the farms disappeared along with Norfolk County, Fulcher’s enterprise flourished by selling recycled containers to the truck farmers from rural tidewater who kept the urban populace supplied with fruits and vegetables.
During the 1940’s he was awarded contracts to purchase used containers from Norfolk’s navy commissaries. At its peak, his business had 12 employees and 6 trucks. He also began manufacturing burlap sacks, sold produce, Christmas trees, and operated a small sidewalk café for farmers. In 1957, he died of cancer. For one year following his death, his family continued to operate the business. However, it came to an end when the city demolished much of Market Street as part of a revitalization effort.
He was married to Ruth Rebecca Fulcher (1898-1980). They are interred together at Calvary along with Evelyn Fulcher Kitchen (1921-2005), Columbus David Fulcher (1921-1973) and Fannie Fulcher Jones (1933-Currently Alive).
DUKE, THE BASKET MAN
by MICHAEL DAVIS
THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Jan 27, 2005
Downtown in the 40's
New Journal and Guide (1916-2003); Feb 3, 1999;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers Norfolk Journal and Guide (1921-2003)
Biographical information provided by Norfolk Bureau of Cemeteries.
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