Grandpas spirit shines on with a towns help

Brandon “Scott” Weldy works on Christmas lights outside his grandparents’ home in West Jefferson. With help from the community, he hopes the display will shine as brightly as it did when his grandfather, Ron Weldy, was in charge.
Weldy carries to the front of the yard one of the manger scene pieces his grandfather built.

Everyone should have at least one person in his or her life who helps to light the way.

For Brandon “Scott” Weldy of West Jefferson, that person was his grandfather, Ron Weldy, who with his wife, Janet, helped to raise Scott and his brother, Christopher. Ron died last year on Nov. 25, Scott’s 24th birthday.

To honor his grandfather’s memory, Scott has invited the community to help him cover his grandmother’s house and trees with Christmas lights. It’s something Ron did every year for his wife, to whom he was married for nearly 50 years. It’s a tradition Scott wants to keep alive, as much for the community as for his grandmother and himself.

“To all the townspeople who knew my grandfather, and there are a lot, I ask that they bring a string of lights for him. It can be friends, family. It can be strangers,” said Scott, who, the weekend after Thanksgiving, started to sort through the layers of lights already on the trees at 775 Lilly Chapel Rd., five houses down from the high school where Ron spent most of his career.

Ron grew up in Piqua, earned a bachelor’s degree in education from The Ohio State University, and ran track and played football for the legendary Coach Woody Hayes. He later earned his masters degree in education from Xavier University.

After graduating from Ohio State, Ron and Janet settled in West Jefferson, where Ron enjoyed a 31-year career as a teacher, principal and coach and Janet spent nearly 20 years as a school cook.
Ron taught everything from physical education and mechanical drawing to chemistry and driver’s education. He coached football, track, wrestling and basketball. He also was a member of West Jefferson United Methodist Church, a past president of the Jaycees, and was very active in the Masons. The big man made a big impression on West Jefferson.
He also made a big impression on Scott.

“He raised four kids, and he took on my brother and me. He always called me his ‘main man.’ There’s nothing not to be proud of about him,” said Scott, who changed his last name to Weldy when he turned 18 as a way of thanking his grandfather for all he had done.

The connection between the boy and the man really comes out in the story Scott tells about a pair of glass pigs.

“When I was little, he needed a stent put in his heart. He teased me and told me he was getting a pig’s heart,” Scott said. “So, I went and got two little glass pigs. I gave him one and I kept one.”

From that point on, Scott said, every time his grandfather had heart problems or back surgery, a piece of Scott’s pig would break. When Ron died of a massive heart attack, the ear on Scott’s pig broke off. It was that broken glass pig that Scott put in his grandfather’s breast pocket—near his heart—before he was buried. Scott later found the pig he gave to his grandfather; it was still whole.

Earlier this year, Scott moved back in with his grandmother, and he wants to give back to his grandfather by picking up where Ron left off with a family tradition.

Ron Weldy was a teacher, principal and coach in West Jefferson for 31 years. He also played football at The Ohio State University for Woody Hayes.

“My grandfather did a lot for people. They always thanked and thanked and thanked him, and he never wanted anything,” said Scott. “I think it’s time he got something out of it. I think this is something he would want.”

It’s a tall order. Scott estimates that his grandfather hung as many as 40,000 lights over the years. Ron added more with each Christmas. In fact, he was so determined one year to light the far reaches of one tree that he got stuck in it. The fire department had to come and get him down, Janet remembers.

“It’s something he always wanted to do—get lights way up in the trees like they do for Christmas in the Park, but he never got to,” Scott said.

Some of those 40,000 lights still work; some don’t. Scott said he welcomes help any way it comes, whether in the form of new lights or people lending a hand to get the old ones working and up again.

“For whoever helps, we will put their names on luminary bags along the driveway,” Scott said—just one more example of how Ron Weldy continues to light the way.

To help, call Scott at 614-769-3794.

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