At age 98, Esther Weir offers a clear-eyed glimpse into the year 1938, when she arrived in Georgetown at age 22. Armed with a bachelor's degree in math from Lander College, a master's degree in physical education from Northwestern University, and the mettle to face the task ahead, Esther drew on great reserves of creativity to fill her job at Southwestern University. Not knowing what to expect at her arrival, she was able to build the women's physical education department from the ground up, then stayed on for 17 years.
At that time, the university was a mirror of the entire country's struggle to recover from the Great Depression. Esther found spartan facilities, equipment nonexistent, wages meager, and for a time, the women were forced to hold classes at 10 pm when the gym was finally available to them. Despite the challenges, she tells of compensating and overcoming the lack of resources by engaging her students and encouraging them to enjoy all activities nature provided in one of Central Texas' most beautiful settings, the San Gabriel River, and frequently at the Weir ranch.
What Esther doesn't reveal in the following interview is how, over her lifetime, she became a local legend by enriching the community with her easy friendship and tireless civic and commercial involvement. From the beginning, her students loved her, then brought their children and grandchildren back to Southwestern to repeat those original positive collegiate experiences.
To read more of her exceptional life, check out the book, The Life and Legend of Esther Weir by Larry Simpson.
Summary prepared by January Raesz, Williamson County Historical Commission appointee, 2018