LIVE OAK — The life of the late Harry K. Weaver, retired Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches President and a father-figure to hundreds if not thousands of former ranchers, will be honored at a visitation this Saturday at Daniels Funeral Home on U.S. Highway 129 North in Live Oak from 10 a.m. – noon. Weaver passed away Sunday, June 23, at his home in Live Oak surrounded by his family.
No better tribute can be given to Harry K. Weaver than the following poem written by his close friend and former Hillsborough County, Florida Sheriff R. Ed Blackburn, Jr., co-founder and dedicated supporter of the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch/Youth Ranches during his life:
“The Winner — It’s every boy’s hope to reach up his hand and find there a grip that he’ll understand. In every boy’s heart there’s a burn running deep for a friend tried and true, whose love he will keep. And should the boy win that goal of his life, his soul soon will lift from its moment of strife. But finally, when passed a trophy from above, the real winner will be him who gave love!”
The family will honor “Mr. Weaver” (as he was called by the boys and girls) as a husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and mentor/father-figure to ranchers who came through the gates of the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch during his tenure.
Because of Harry K. Weaver, the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch and later the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, the lives of all those kids desperate for someone to show love and discipline to them were forever changed for the better. Under Weaver’s watchful care for 33-plus years, the mission of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches has always been to prevent juvenile delinquency and develop lawful, productive citizens through a broad range of family-centered services. The challenge was great, the choices clear. Weaver quietly and determinedly walked the walk, met the challenges and provided a warm welcome to every boy and girl as they became part of the Youth Ranches family that includes every past, present and future staff member, every past, present and future boy and every girl who were and are being served by the Youth Ranches.
Weaver was a former federal probation officer who stood more than 6 feet tall. Former ranchers from the early days at the Boys Ranch today say his height and image provided a father image to them that included love along with discipline they tried to avoid at all costs.
Former Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranchers of all ages from all over the U.S. as well as former sheriffs, elected officials, staff, donors and others are making plans to visit with the Weaver family Saturday.
While serving as administrator and then president from 1961–1994, Weaver was involved in expanding the organization into the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches that has now served more than 150,000 kids all across Florida.
From the time he was a young man born in Bristol, Florida, on Aug. 28, 1929, Weaver cared for others and especially those less fortunate. His father was Eugene Weaver, the local postmaster. As soon as he could reach the pedals and see over the dashboard, Weaver was driving the delivery car carrying mail and packages even though he didn’t have a license and was too young to be driving.
Weaver lost his mother (Suzie Harrell) at a very young age. His father then married a woman who would have a profound influence on his life. He called his step-mother “Miss Sally.” She was kind and generous but most importantly, treated Harry like her real son. Harry always exemplified the work ethic, courage, deep faith and sense of responsibility his father and step-mother instilled in him.
After applying to and graduating from Florida State University with a bachelor of science degree in education, Weaver enlisted in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Wachenheim, Germany, serving in the U.S. Army Security Agency from 1952-1954. He and his wife of 65 years, Jacquelyn (Jacky), were married in Germany in 1954.
Weaver’s influence extended beyond the child-care programs developed in Florida. He was a founding member of the National Association of Homes for Children and from 1975–1977 served as the first president of the organization. He served his own community as well, being part of the Suwannee Bulldogs Booster Club and many other associations in the county. He was awarded the Suwannee County Chamber of Commerce’s Trail Blazer Award for his work with the Youth Ranches, a high honor.
Weaver is survived by his wife of 65 years, Jacquelyn; his three children, Gayle (Stephen) Crespo of Lake City, Roth (Brad) Weaver of Galena, Ill., Kin Weaver (Virginia) of Live Oak; three grandchildren, Hal (Taylor) Weaver of Live Oak, Jabe Weaver of Reno, Nev., Lee (Kris) Weaver and two great grandchildren, Kaden and Reese of Raleigh, N.C.
The family has asked that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Harry K. Weaver Endowment at the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches in his memory.
Donation info can be found at https://www.youthranches.org/index.php/ways-to-give/online-donation.html. Under additional comments direct the gift towards Harry K. Weaver’s endowment fund. You may also fill out the form to send a special card in memory of him to his family. The address to mail donations is Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, P.O. Box 2000, Boys Ranch, FL 32064. If you would like to donate by phone you may call 1-800-765-3797.