Former BOE super dies

Published 6:08 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2005

By By Michele Gerlach
Longtime Escambia County Superintendent of Education Harry L. Weaver was remembered this week as an effective administrator and astute politician.
Weaver, who served as superintendent from 1957 until 1981, died Saturday. He was 92.
Weaver moved to Brewton when he was 13. He was educated at T.R. Miller High School, Birmingham Southern College and Auburn University. His father, the late Oliver C. Weaver Sr., known fondly as "Mr. O.C.," served as superintendent of education of Escambia County for 28 years.
Weaver worked as a teacher and principal in the school system for 22 years before becoming superintendent, an office to which he was elected four times. Later, when the law was changed to allow the elected county board of education to appoint a superintendent, Weaver was appointed to the post for eight years.
Former Superintendent of Education Curtis Ray Parker worked for Weaver as principal of Neal High School and in the county office as assistant superintendent.
"He was the kind of fellow that, if you did your job, you had no problems," Parker said. "He expected you to do your job and he was the boss."
Parker said if ever Weaver approached you with his hat cocked down over one eye, "you knew to get out of the way."
"I learned a lot from him about education and about finances," Parker said. "He was a superintendent who knew what was going on. He knew where strings were and what strings to pull probably better than anyone before or after him."
Among the challenges Weaver faced as superintendent was racial integration.
"He managed integration very successfully in this county," Parker said. "To go through that and not come up with any more private schools than we did was an accomplishment. But he knew the people of the county and knew how to work that."
Aside from winning elected office four times, one of Weaver's political accomplishments was the passage of a local oil severance tax for local schools.
"At the time, it was the salvation of the schools," Parker said, adding that at one time, the tax generated close to $2 million a year in taxes.
"That was a feather in his cap," Parker said. "He and (then Rep.) Mack Mays and Sen. (Ernest) Jackson from Flomaton worked it through the House and the Senate and with the governor."
The late superintendent documented the efforts to pass the tax and the compromises made along the way in a history that is maintained in the school systems' central office, Parker said.
Former Escambia County Sheriff Scotty Byrne agreed that Weaver was an astute politician.
"He was a wonderful fellow. He was bright, and knew what was going on. He was very civic-minded," Byrne said. "He followed state politics and knew how to go get the help he needed to get something done here."
But when Byrne thinks of Weaver, politics don't first come to mind: Dominoes do.
"He was a good domino player," Byrne said. "A bunch of us played. My daddy, his daddy – it all started 50 or 60 years ago."
"He was well-liked – I don't know if he ever had an enemy," Byrne said. "He was just a real fine, outstanding person."
When Weaver retired in 1981, he was given office space for life in the school system's central office. Both Parker and current Superintendent of Schools Buck Powell said it was sometimes helpful to talk with him there.
"Occasionally when something came up, it was convenient to tap into his knowledge," Parker said.
Powell, who was hired into the Escambia County system by Weaver in the 1970s, said Weaver continued to come to the office almost daily until about four months ago.
"He was a wealth of knowledge," Powell said. "I enjoyed talking with him and picking his brain. Nobody can really understand this job if they haven't done it."
For complete obituary information, see Page 5A of today's Atmore Advance.

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