University of Mobile founding president and chancellor Dr. William K. Weaver Jr., who was named Mobilian of the Year in 1983, died Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at the age of 95. A memorial service for the World War II veteran, civic leader and ordained pastor will be held Thursday, Jan. 16, at 1 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Mobile. A family graveside service will be held at Montrose Cemetery prior to the memorial service.
Remembered for his kindness, humor, faith and love of family, Dr. Weaver enjoyed telling the story of the university he was instrumental in founding, noting that he was named president of then-Mobile College in April 1961 when the school had no land, no buildings, no faculty, no students – and no problems.
The Alabama Baptist-affiliated school in north Mobile County enrolled its first class of freshmen in 1963 with Dr. Weaver as founding president and today has an enrollment of more than 1,600 students. Dr. Weaver retired as president in 1984 and was named chancellor, a position he held until his death.
Dr. Mark Foley, president of the University of Mobile, said it took courage and determination for Dr. Weaver and other leaders such as J.L. Bedsole and T.T. Martin to start a college.
“To start a college from scratch – I can’t imagine a more daunting task, yet that is what Dr. Weaver did. To build a college from the early days when it was little more than a cut off mound in the middle of a pine forest to a university with more than 1,600 students on 880 acres is amazing,” Foley said. “I know Bill was proud of Mobile College and the University of Mobile and all that it has become. I will miss his humor, grace, smile and encouragement.”
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife “B,” Annie Boyd Parker Weaver, and a brother, Davis C. Weaver, M.D., and parents William Kiser Weaver Sr. and Roberta Cooper Weaver of Talladega, Ala.
He is survived by his daughter, Anne Weaver Davis and son-in-law Thomas H. Davis Jr.; three grandsons: Thomas H. “Trey” Davis III (Brooke), Campbell G. Davis, and Clayton C. Davis (Mary Ann); a great-granddaughter, Lucy Grey Davis; and siblings Ann Weaver Armstrong and Robert C. Weaver.
A 1936 graduate of Talladega high School, Weaver graduated in 1940 with a Bachelor of Arts from Howard College, now Samford University, and in 1943 with a Master of Theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was awarded the honorary Doctor of Divinity from Samford University and the honorary Doctor of Law from University of Mobile.
He was ordained to the ministry by First Baptist Church of Talladega on March 1, 1942, and served as an associate in the Baptist Training Union Department of Kentucky, the first Director of Religious Activities at Howard College/Samford University, the Director of Baptist Student Work in Alabama, and pastor of First Baptist Church, Sylacauga, from 1950-1961, then was named founding president of Mobile College in 1961.
He served in World War II as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps and was stationed on a blimp base in South Weymouth, Mass.; on the U.S. Kadashan Bay CVE 76, a small aircraft carrier, in the Pacific; and at the Naval Separation Center on Norman, Okla.
Dr. Weaver was extensively involved in community service and was named Mobilian of the Year in 1983, an honor awarded annually since 1948 by the Civitan Club to some of the most influential leaders in the Mobile community. A Rotarian since 1950, he was president of Sylacauga Rotary Club and Rotary Club of Mobile. He served on the Board of Directors of the Rotary Club of Mobile, governor of District 688 Rotary International, the Board of Directors of Rotary Children’s Foundation and Board of Directors of Rotary Rehabilitation Center. He was the third member of the Rotary Club of Mobile to be named a Paul Harris Fellow, received the Rotary Club of Mobile “Rotarian of the Year Award” and Rotary District 6880 “Meritorius Achievement Award.”
Among numerous awards, he received the Mobile Register’s “M.O. Beale Scroll of Merit” seven times and the Distinguished Award from the Alabama Easter Seal Society in 1990.
Dr. Weaver served on the following denominational, educational and community boards: Chairman, Alabama Baptist State Executive Board; Chairman, Alabama Baptist Historical Commission; Deacon and Sunday School Teacher, First Baptist Church of Mobile; Chairman, Board of Directors, Baptist Oaks Retirement Center; Trustee, Alabama Association of Independent Colleges and Universities; Board of Directors, Council for Advancement of Small Colleges in America; Board of Trustees, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; President, Southern Baptist Association of Colleges and Universities; Chairman, Southern Baptist Education Commission; Chairman, Selection Committee, Bedsole Scholars Program; Chairman, Board of Directors and President, Community Chest and Council; United Way of Southwest Alabama Campaign Chairman 1983; Library Board, City of Mobile; Chairman, Advisory Committee America’s Junior Miss Pageant; Board of Directors, America’s Junior Miss
Scholarship Foundation; Mobile Area Council, Boy Scouts of America; Mobile Chapter,
American Red Cross; Mobile Museum Board; Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce; Chairman, Easter Seal Society; Advisory Board, Mobile Chapter Freedoms Foundation; Gordon Smith Center, Board of Directors; Steering Committee, Mobile United; First Dean of Leadership Mobile Program; President, Leadership Mobile; and Volunteer Mobile, Board of Directors.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the University of Mobile designated for the William K. Weaver Jr. Endowed Scholarship (www.umobile.edu) or First Baptist, Mobile (www.fbcmmobile.com).
Dr. William K. Weaver Jr., founding president of Mobile College/University of Mobile
Dr. William K. Weaver Jr. and his beloved wife "B", Annie Boyd Parker Weaver.