Gatesville lost one, of its most esteemed men this week in the death of J.M. Witcher, 80, retired school teacher.
Mr. Witcher died at his home Wednesday at 5 a.m. after being ill only a few days. He had lived at' this same home forty three years.
Funeral services were held Thursday at 2:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, Rev. J. T. Ayers officiating. Burial was in the Masonic cemetery with Scott's in charge. Pallbearers were Charles Powell, Price Neeley, Andrew Kendrick, Dawson Cooper, Elworth Lowrey, Crawford Scott, Floyd Zeigler, and Wendell Lowrey. Honorary pallbearers were the deacons of the First Baptist Church.
Born John Melville Witcher to Armistid and Americus Holland Witcher, April 24, 1877 in Liberty Hill, he was reared there.
Mr. Witcher attended Baylor University, and received his degree from Denton Texas State Normal. He taught school at Killeen, Copperas Cove, Walnut Springs and Gatesville.
Moving to Gatesville in 1915 from Walnut Springs, Mr. Witcher was principal, of the Gatesville Grammar School for a number of years and . principal of Gatesville High School for a few years. He later, taught at Ireland, Mound and the State School For Boys.
For four years he was superintendent of schools in Coryell County. He was active in the field of education for more than forty years, retiring in 1947.
Mr. Witcher was ordained a deacon in the Baptist Church in Killeen approximately fifty years ago, and has been active in all phases of church work since that time. He was a' charter member of the Gatesville Lions Club, and a member of the Masonic Lodge for many years. Despite failing health, he remained active' and attended all church activities, Lions club and other civic meetings.
When Boy Scouts was mentioned, Mr. Witcher's name immediately came to mind. He was in Scout work for thirty-seven years and during this time taught the boys much scouting and carried them through many hair raising experiences and interesting places. He received the Silver Beaver Award in 1950, the highest honor paid to Scout leaders.
Mr. Witcher was married October 5, 1905 to Miss Rachael Albertson and she survives him. Also surviving are a son Dr. S. L. Witcher of Clifton two. daughters, Mrs., E. N. Stiver of Waco and Mrs. Dennis Dail of Eden eight grandchildren a brother Jim Witcher of Lampasas four sisters, Mrs. Zora Cox of Liberty Hill, Mrs. Edna Tomlinson of Manor, Mrs. Lizzie McSpadden of Lamesa, and Mrs. Dave Herbert of Lake Charles. La.
When J. M, Witcher died last week, he was one of the richest men of the realm.
His wealth didn't consist of material things for his life wasn't invested in the marts of money and commerce. Rather it was invested in the church and in youth, and many were the visible returns of his contributions in those two fields.
Mr. Witcher, during his years and years as a Boy Scout leader, steered more boys down the narrow path to full and wholesome lives than perhaps any other man in this community clergymen included. His efforts to enlist people for Christ and His church were tireless and unflagging.
Mr. Witcher couldn't always hide a genteel disdain for all the red tape and regimen that goes with organized Boy Scout training. Just give him a group of boys and God's wonderland of nature, and those boys would learn invaluable lessons that proved dependable guideposts right on into adulthood.
In these days when youth is handled with the soft‑glove touch, it's good to remember that Mr. Witcher was a man who knew no compromise. To him, it was simply a case of right being right and wrong being wrong. Mr. Witcher always championed right, and always shunned wrong.
It was only a few years back that the body which "his boys" had come to believe was as sturdy as a great oak began to fail. Still Mr. Witcher was an active figure in Coryell Baptist circles.
When death claimed him in the predawn hours of Jan. 8th Mr. Witcher surely had the rich satisfaction of a life well and profitably spent. And surely the gracious and all‑wise Heavenly Father to whom he prayed with such fervor and faith has a reward for His nobleman commensurate with his labors.