Learning and studying are habits that were instilled in Weatherbee by his late parents, Cecil and Mabel Weatherbee. Cecil and Mabel would probably be proud of their only child to know that he’s studied hard enough to become the grand master of the state, the highest honor in the Masonic Lodge. Cecil himself was a member of the Gadsden Lodge 236 in Gadsden.
Another relative, the younger Weatherbee’s uncle, the late Clarence Edward Weatherbee, was past master of the Selma lodge and was the worthy grand patron of the Alabama Grand Chapter Eastern Star.
Weatherbee was elected deputy grand master at the grand lodge session in November. According to the constitution of the Grand Lodge of Alabama, the deputy grand master assumes the duties and responsibilities of the grand master upon his death. Grand Master Charles A. Booker, who Weatherbee calls a “dear friend and great Mason,” died suddenly in February.
“I automatically assumed that title,” said Weatherbee. “There was no action necessary. The constitution took care of that. I didn’t have a choice in the matter.”
Weatherbee said he doesn’t get involved in the management of local lodges unless there’s a serious problem.
“My responsibilities are like a corporate CEO, actually,” he said. “We have a corporate board consisting of our grand officers. We are responsible for setting budgets, with the help of our finance committee, but all matters concerning fraternal decisions rest with the grand master.
Weatherbee will complete Booker’s term in November. If the brethren of the lodge see fit, he will be elected to his own term and will remain in that position until November 2014.
He is expecting and hoping for that to happen. He’s ready for it and is looking forward to it.
Weatherbee said the honor of serving as grand master is “the most exciting, rewarding, though often trying job in the world, simply because of the schedule.”
He explained one of his hectic weeks.
“For instance, I’m leaving tomorrow to go to south Alabama, spend the night and be in Florala on Friday morning,” he said. “I’ll attend a banquet and participate in the crowning of the king and queen of the Masonic Day Festival. Friday night, I’ll participate in a master mason degree at Florala Lodge, then Saturday, I’ll install officers in several lodges down there, be the grand marshal of the parade, come back to Piedmont, change suitcases, and be on the airplane Sunday for a session of the Imperial Shrine International in Indianapolis.”
Weatherbee is a member of several Masonic organizations, including the York Rite bodies in Anniston, the Scottish Rite Bodies, Valley of Birmingham; Zamora Shrine Center in Irondale and is the only emeritus director that temple has ever had.
He wrote the legislation for and designed the Shriners license plate. Sales of these plates have contributed nearly $1 million to the Shriners hospitals.
He is also a member of the Red Cross of Constantine which involves the York Rite of Masonry and is a Knight Commander of the Court of Honor in the Scottish Rite.
Weatherbee said if he’s fortunate, he’ll reach the 33rd highest degree in Masonry. That’s what he’s striving and hoping for.
Weatherbee is proud of his local lodge and is happy to call his these members as well as those across the state his friends.
“These guys are working for friendship and brotherly love,” he said. “That’s what Masonry is based on. We hand out scholarships to Piedmont High School and Spring Garden High School seniors. We help members of our fraternities, their widows and families if they’re in dire straits.”
Weatherbee gave a personal example.
“On March 1, our house burned,” he said. “My daughter and I lost everything. Almost immediately, the spiritual, financial and fraternal assistance that came from the Masonic order and lodges across the state began arriving. The people of Piedmont and my church family were also generous, compassionate and wonderful.”
Weatherbee is assistant treasurer and chairman of the usher committee at First United Methodist Church.
He has three children. His older son, Greg, is production manager for a firm that owns several newspapers in Ohio. Daughter Missie Weatherbee and her grandson, Mayson, live with her father and is plant manager of the Tennessee Alabama Manufacturing Plant in Piedmont. Scott is in a managerial position delivering propane gas containers. He and his wife, April, live in Piedmont. Weatherbee has five grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.
Weatherbee’s wife and business associate, the former Carol Harper, died in 2005.
Weatherbee was born and grew up in Gadsden. He graduated from Gadsden High in 1961, then attended Jacksonville State University and the University of Alabama. He was working as an insurance adjuster in Birmingham when his father, who had been police commissioner in Gadsden for a number of years, was named editor of The Piedmont Journal and asked him to leave that job and join him at the Journal.
Weatherbee joined his father in 1966.
After his father’s death, Weatherbee and Carol ran the paper, with the help of secretaries through the years. The last secretary the Weatherbees employed was Betty Lawler, whom Weatherbee affectionately referred to as “Bob.”
Weatherbee covered meetings, did all the photography, wrote stories, built the paper was the business manager and laid out the ads that Carol sold.
He said he missed Carol, who wasn’t just his wife and friend, but felt her loss terribly at the paper. They had worked together side by side for more than 30 years.
“I worked there almost a year after her death,” he said. “It just wasn’t the same. And I’d had 40 years of it. I think that’s a long enough career for anyone in any one place. I came to The Journal the last week of March in 1966 and left the last week of March in 2006.”
After the fire, Weatherbee didn’t rebuild at the site where his house burned. He bought another home in which he’s living with his daughter, great-grandson, miniature schnauzers (Major and Beau), and a mixed breed, Atticus, who showed up one day.
He and Carol enjoyed traveling, often on their motorcycles, and cooking. These days, he’s riding his Triumph Trophy 1200 cc sport-touring bike. “It’s designed as a touring bike, but has saddle bags on it and handles like a dream,” he said.
Weatherbee said retirement doesn’t afford him the time to cook that he once had. He still enjoys it though and occasionally prepares meals for friends but said that, too, isn’t the same without Carol.
Weatherbee is continuing to enjoy living in the town that he’s called home for most of his life. He enjoys the friends that he and Carol made.
“I wouldn’t take a million dollars for Piedmont and the people in it,” he said. “Everyone here has been so good to my family and me.”
Contact Margaret at email@example.com.