Although some people may make others feel about two inches tall, Dr. Dennis Weatherby had the opposite effect.
“I walked out of his office whenever we had a meeting and I always felt about two inches taller,” said Dr. Annette Burkeen, president of The Black Faculty and Staff Association, at a memorial service for Dr. Weatherby Oct. 4 in the Otto Budig Theatre.
“He would say something positive about me or say something about an ability that I had that I didn’t see. That made him the quintessential mentor, the teacher, the advocate who would lift you up and make you think that you could do anything,” said Burkeen.
Other mourners who spoke were University President James Votruba; Gail Wells, vice president of academic affairs; David Emery, director of the academic advising resource center and Zebulun Davenport, assistant vice president of student affairs. Students Kanita House and Joshua A. Harris, the president of the Black Men’s Organization, also spoke. The Annoited Voices Gospel Choir performed as well.
Everyone who spoke said the same things about Weatherby: He stood on principle, was a great mentor, and a good listener, humble and dedicated to helping students.
“(He) not only took me under his wing, but he made me believe I could fly. Dr. Weatherby made my success as a student possible,” Harris said.
He said Weatherby was his Moses. Harris referenced Deuteronomy 34, which describes the death of Moses and the children of Israel’s place on the brink of the Promised Land, “almost to their full potential,” Harris said. After Moses died, the children of Israel wept for 30 days.
“Our servant, God’s servant Dr. Weatherby has died,” Harris said. “And our 30 days have come to an end. Yes, we will allow our healing process to endure. For the bible says, surely weeping will endure for a night, but we do expect joy to come in the morning.”
Davenport summed up others’ perception of Weatherby when he gave five guiding principles that, he said, Weatherby held:
Always stand on principles because they are the foundation of life.
Always respect your elders because they deserve our respect.
Never compromise your integrity because it’s all you have in the end.
Always do the right thing even if it’s not popular because you reap what you sow in life.
Find your passion and put your soul in it because happiness and fulfillment will certainly follow because life is too short to be unhappy, and too long to do the things you’re not happy doing.