'We Can't Match
His Step, But We
Can Follow His
Lead,' Jones Says
BY LISA WARREN
The memory of Claude "Junior" Weems Jr. was honored by the Greene County Board of Education and the community at West Greene High School on Friday with the dedication of a new classroom wing.
The new wing, named in his honor, will serve as the school's Freshman Academy.
One of the plaques unveiled during the ceremony shows the smiling face of the beloved long-time county school board member, who died earlier this year at 79 from injuries sustained in a farming accident.
Just prior to his death, the County Board of Education had voted to dedicate the new classroom wing in honor of Weems, who was a 10-year member of the school board as well as a long-serving alderman with the Town of Mosheim.
The two plaques were made possible due to generous contributions from the community, said school board Chairman Roger Jones, who was on hand at the dedication Friday along with other board members, school officials, Weems family members, students, and citizens of the community.
Jones said that Weems "set the tone" for those in the community and in public service as to how things should be done.
"As a school board, we will try our best to continue those things as we walk forward," Jones said. "We can't match his step, but we can follow his lead."
Members of the Weems family attending included his wife, Janet, and their children, Bryan Weems and Shari Weems-Cook.
Weems' daughter, Shari, expressed appreciation to those gathered for the event for all that they have done to honor her father.
"I want everyone to know how much each of you meant to him," Cook said.
Bryan Weems echoed his sister's words by saying "Thank you" to those who loved and wanted to honor their father with this special memorial.
"Dad is watching over us, and I know that he wants all of us to succeed in life, especially the students. He wants you, the students, to work hard and to get a good education," Bryan Weems said.
"Work hard in school and get an education where you can do what you want to do in life," he said. With that education, he added, " you can reach and do anything you want."
ON FIRST MOSHEIM BOARD
Known affectionately as "Junior," Claude Weems Jr. was a member of the first Mosheim Board of Mayor and Aldermen, in 1974, and served as the town's mayor from 1978-82.
He returned to the board in 1999 and had been serving as 2nd Ward alderman since then.
In addition, since 2002 he had been a member of the Greene County Board of Education, representing the 4th School Board District.
The district includes Mosheim Elementary and Middle School, Glenwood and McDonald elementary schools, and West Greene High School.
A devoted Christian and a lifelong member of Mosheim Central United Methodist Church, Weems was a member of the choir and held many offices in the church over the years.
Weems was also a U.S. Army veteran and retired from the former Magnavox Company after 43 years of service.
Those in attendance for the unveiling ceremony were welcomed by Dr. Julia Lamons, principal of West Greene High School, who called the event "a bittersweet occasion."
"Junior Weems was such an amazing man. I had the privilege of knowing him for about 12 years," Lamons said.
"He has had a major impact on my own life," Lamons continued. "He was so proud of this community and of this school and of these students."
Lamons said that Weems was "so excited" when he learned that the new classroom wing at West Greene would be named in his honor.
"Some of the things that we try to instill in the students is to have the great sense of pride that Junior displayed. And when we decided that we were going to use this new wing as the Freshman Academy, we decided that our motto was going to be: 'Entering With a Purpose, Excelling by Performance and Exiting Prepared.'"
Lamons said that this motto was "very fitting" to honor Junior Weems.
In addition to the new wing, a scholarship fund has also been established and named in honor of Weems at West Greene, Lamons said.
In addition, a Freshman Academy Award will also be established for a freshman each school year in honor of Weems, she added.
Freshman Zack Potter, who took part in the dedication ceremony, spoke about Weems and said that "with his passing, our school and the entire community lost something that is irreplaceable."
DR. KIRK SPEAKS
Dr. Vicki Kirk, director of the Greene County Schools, called Weems "the kind of man that you didn't want to let down.
"It wasn't because he might fuss at you if you did -- it was because he believed in you so much," Kirk said.
"Knowing somebody like that can help you be a better person," she said.
"As a man of faith, Junior lived his life in line with his beliefs," Kirk continued.
In addressing the students directly, Kirk told them that they should pass by these plaques each day on their way to class and ask themselves, "Am I living up to my own beliefs?"
In his own life, Kirk said, Weems exhibited the "fruits of the spirit" which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.
Dr. Kirk challenged the students to exhibit those virtues in their own lives and to remember Junior Weems and what he believed in and stood for -- and to make their lives a tribute to his and to live up to his example.