For most of the last fifteen or so years, the children of the Grayson Cluster have enjoyed spending time with a beloved man who has not only served his country, but also his community with distinction.
He is generally found sporting a Vietnam Veterans hat, surrounded by children and has been a regular afternoon customer at the Grayson Kroger for many years. He is a man with a routine and when that routine is disrupted, people notice.
After Mr. and Mrs. Weeks returned from their annual camp volunteer week in July, Mr. Richard Weeks began to feel a little less like himself and spent a few weeks recovering and regaining his spry smile and generous nature. “I just didn’t feel like myself,” says Mr. Weeks. “Things are looking up though!”
As a regular around town, people notice when someone like Mr. Weeks isn’t in the places they are used to seeing him. “We look forward to seeing him every day,” says Melissa (Front-end Manager at Kroger). The kids in the neighborhood missed him, the youth at Grayson United Methodist missed him, the staff at Kroger missed him, the schools where he has been a substitute teacher for more than 15 years missed him. Pretty much, everyone missed him and because they love him so much, they all wanted to do something. Setting a great example of how to serve are simply byproducts of a great teacher. Mr. Weeks is a great teacher and when “his kids” wanted to return the favor, they did it in a variety of ways.
There was the crew who descended upon the yard. One call from another community leader and teacher, Jon Jurick, produced a one day turn-around with a crew of 25 people who raked, cut, trimmed, planted and brightened up the Weeks’ yard. “I can hardly believe all of the people who showed up with such short notice,” says Jurick. “It is a testament to how much he is loved.”
He was certainly missed at Kroger. Most days, Mr. Weeks would show up around 4pm to buy a little of this or that and a lottery ticket. Each trip was filled with plenty of hugs and smiles from the staff. It was a very quiet day when they learned that their friend was ill. One of Mr. Weeks’ biggest fans at Kroger is Jonathan Jacobs. While the staff was debating on whether to send food, flowers or both, Jonathan smiled and quietly said, “Lottery tickets, we should send him lottery tickets.” Everyone agreed that lottery tickets were…well, just the ticket!”
Charlie Condor, youth minister at Grayson GUMC has a special place in her heart for Mr. Weeks. He works with the LIFT student ministry after school. “He talks with students, shares advice and always stays to worship with them,” says Ms. Charlie. “My favorite thing about Mr. Weeks is the index card he carries in his pocket. He writes down names of students who need an extra prayer.” Ms. Charlie then goes on to explain that almost every day he comes in the sanctuary to spend time with God and pray for those names on his index cards. “I like to think that as Mr. Weeks makes his rounds around the community, he gathers people to pray for.” As a community leader, Ms. Charlie sees Mr. Weeks as many do; an important part of daily life in the Grayson area. “I love him so much and can only hope to make a positive impact on the community as he has.”
Students have enjoyed his company for many years in the classroom. His military career was something to be proud of and Mr. Weeks saw a great deal of the world and untold horrors of war, but that only made him want to leave the earth a better place than when he arrived. “I always wanted to be a teacher, but it didn’t work out that way,” says Mr. Weeks. “I got to do something better in substituting for the teachers who are really the ones in the trenches each day.” His respect for the classroom teacher showed in the way he cared for their students when a substitute was needed. In November of 2008, Mr. Weeks was honored by Pharr Elementary as a cherished part of the staff as they acknowledged his years of service to the country and to the students.
Pharr Elementary teacher, Jon Jurick says, “He is a one of a kind man!” He shares that there is something else Mr. Weeks does that not many know he does. “He calls it his ‘Drive-Thru Prayer’,”says Jon. “He drives behind the church and stops (just about every day). He will then pray for the church and the community. That just shows his compassion for his friends and family in Grayson.”
Being a teacher and leading by example are gentle ways in which Mr. Weeks lives his faith and shows his commitment to the children of the area. He is humble in his manner, but felt a great deal of joy when, upon learning that he was not well, the community he has served reciprocated in kind without hesitation.