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Esther M. Weir Fund Established at Southwestern

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    Esther Weir at her surprise birthday party on March 19, 2011.
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    Esther with friends and family.
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    President Jake Schrum '68 with Mike Weir and Ken Klaveness '69.
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    Esther with Dori Weir.
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    Happy birthday, Esther!
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Fund endowed in honor of long-time Southwestern friend’s 95th birthday.

Esther Weir has been in Georgetown for more than 70 years. Since her arrival in 1938, she has seen the incredible growth of the City of Georgetown, and has made her mark on that growth, receiving countless awards for her extensive contributions to the University and the community. Esther’s deep Georgetown roots and wide-ranging activities formed her fearless personality and her can-do attitude—her influence endures at Southwestern and in the city to this day.

Esther was 22 years old when she was offered a teaching position at Southwestern University. For more than 17 years, she taught a wide variety of physical education classes and was a favorite teacher among students. She and her husband, A.C. “Doc” Weir, also taught horseback riding at their ranch to Southwestern students during and after her tenure on the faculty. The couple’s philosophy of hospitality was, “If you enjoy it, please come out to the ranch and make yourself at home.” Thus began Esther’s reputation for generosity, know-how and friendliness. Weir Ranch quickly became a student respite and faculty gathering place. The Weirs loved having people come out to the ranch, especially college students. Now the grandchildren of the students the Weirs originally welcomed onto the ranch come to visit and the legacy continues.

Esther “retired” in the late 1970s, after teaching for 17 years both at Southwestern and in the Georgetown public schools. This freed her to work tirelessly in the community. Esther’s many contributions include revamping the state’s physical education curriculum, editing Georgetown history books, pitching in to revitalize downtown, helping to create the Christmas Stroll and Mayfair, and serving as the first woman on the original committee that pushed for better recreation opportunities in Georgetown. She has served in many capacities for the Georgetown Heritage Society, Downtown Georgetown Association, and Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Esther has said that she was involved in the community because it is where her family lived, and it was her job to assist in any way she could.

Not surprisingly, when asked about these accomplishments, Esther is modest and lighthearted. But her accomplishments speak for themselves, are deserving of much praise and admiration. To honor the countless ways Esther has touched us all, her family began searching for a way to create a lasting legacy in celebration of her 95th birthday in March 2011. But what do you give the woman who has received so many awards and accolades? The family realized that a scholarship in her honor would embody many of Esther’s values and accomplishments. Esther’s family and closest friends launched this initiative and in true Weir fashion made it a great success! The Esther M. Weir Fund was established and kept a surprise until Esther’s birthday party at Southwestern on March 19, when President Jake Schrum revealed the scholarship to Esther in front of a large crowd gathered to toast her 95th birthday.

Esther was all smiles as the announcement was made. She was poised and gracious to all involved. She later wrote a note to President Schrum expressing her thanks, saying, “Who could ever imagine that I would have a scholarship named for me? It’s still hard to believe.”  Esther is truly deserving of this gift, which will shape the lives of future Southwestern students. Thanks to generous gifts from family and friends, the endowment will fund its first scholarship in fall 2011.

To contribute to this fund for deserving students, please do so online at: www.southwestern.edu/esther. Gifts can be made in a number of different ways including annual gifts or a multi-year pledge fulfilled over three to five years. Please call Amanda Parr in Southwestern’s Office of Development at (512) 863-1403, if you have questions.