By Troy Pennington
Special to The Messenger

GRAPELAND – Weldon Kerby came to little Grapeland, Texas in 1958 when his dad became pastor at First Baptist Church. I came to accept the Lord under Bro. Bland Kerby. Weldon met Sandra Herod while visiting the church, fell in love and married Sandra.

I really thought Sandra would have liked the big city style better, but Weldon fell in love with Grapeland. He adopted Grapeland and we adopted him.

In 1968, Weldon and Sandra bought the Grapeland Messenger from Ed Luker, and in the transition, they got my soon-to-be wife, LaWanda Thetford, and J.T. Hicks as a part of the woodwork and throw-in with the deal.

LaWanda loved working in the newspaper business and Weldon and Sandra became our new family.

Their kids, D’Linda and Jeff were like our kids, our first kids, and Weldon was like a brother to me.

Weldon took on Grapeland in every way. He gave thousands of hours to our town. He was at every school event, making pictures. He didn’t miss a fire while on the department, and when we took on the Grapeland Ambulance Service, it was Weldon on 90 percent of the calls.

He was on the City Council, in the Grapeland Jaycees, the Lions Club, and the Masonic Lodge and Community Council. He taught Sunday School, and sang in the choir at First Baptist.

He did so much of his work at the print shop at midnight because he had spent so much of his time giving to this community. In addition to this, Weldon helped me any time I needed an extra hand. He really liked cowboying.

We hunted together a lot, played 42 together, went out to eat, and went to Six Flags many times on Press Day, which was always a big event.

Weldon taught me my Masonic work. We competed growing beards together for the Grapeland Centennial, his got longer, mine got redder.

And then we bought motorcycles, rode as much as we could, and our wives called it our mid-life crisis. I love Sandra and Weldon Kerby and their kids so much.

Grapeland has lost one of the best citizens ever. Weldon received the Citizen of the Year once, but should have gotten it every year! Weldon, you’ve left me lots of great memories!! I miss you my friend.