On February 13, 2018, I lost a neighbor, friend, former English teacher and ultimately a mentor. Born in Bulloch County, Luweta Lowe spent most of her 86 years in Effingham. She was a teacher and Principal for over 40 years in the schools in Effingham County, Georgia and Hampton County, South Carolina. I had Mrs. Boaen as my English teacher in Springfield Elementary for 7th and 8th grades. When Effingham Middle School opened she moved there and taught me in 9th and again in 10th grade as she moved up also at Effingham County High. Everything that I learned about grammar and writing, came from the solid foundation that she provided.
She married Ernest Boaen and lived a few miles away from my home and was the mother of my classmate, her only daughter Eugenia B. Crosby. Husband of 43 years, Mr. “Earnie” preceded her in death as well as her brother Jack Lowe and sister in law Dora B. Reiser. She was devoted to her daughter, son-in-law “Pastor Bob”, her grandson Krey Lowther and his wife Faye, great grandson Krey Lee Lowther, Jr., Barbara Gruis Strickland, a 4-H exchange student Minnesota who was like a second daughter, and Genia’s s Lowther step-children Gay, Angel and Tonya and their families. She had nieces and nephews who miss her, too.
When Kevin Moore said she was like family to all of us, he is so right. She loved young people and was a leader in 4-H as well as a teacher. When your tummy got upset and you went to the office she offered soothing peppermints according to Jennifer Rahn, now an assistant Principal at Springfield Elementary following in the footsteps of her former principal. She praised our accomplishments and dealt out our punishments with a firm hand.
Mrs. Boaen was an active involved member for 66 years at Pine Street Baptist Church in Guyton. After retirement she enjoyed the local and state Retired Teachers Associations and was a member of the Clyo Homemakers.
Peggy Z. Smith recalls she had holes in her paddle and we could not say “ain’t” in her classroom or elsewhere and if she caught you, oh no. Peg says her husband Steve recalls she told him if he would stay in school, he would have more opportunities so he would not have to work weekends which he was not keen upon.
Billy Dasher says, “She was the best English teacher I ever had and I give her credit for teaching me proper grammar. Mrs. Weta was a strict disciplinarian and demanded good behavior which is why you learned in her class. The school system lost one of the best the day she retired. She was a great lady.” He recalls her fun loving caring side as she and Mr. Earnie were his 4-H advisors.
Douglas Exley’s first recollection of Mrs. Weta was, “…when I was five years old and my father Miller Exley was Prinicipal at Clyo Elementary, Mrs. Weta taught first grade at the school. He would take me to school sometimes when my mother was ill and Mrs. Weta would let me stay in her class all day. When Daddy died, I was 14; she came to the funeral and pulled me to the side. Seeing how upset I was, she talked to me for a long time and told me I was going to be alright. I still can hear her comforting words. She was a very good person! She wrote amazing letters of recommendation when I applied for scholarships to attend college and I received both.”
We all loved Mrs. Boaen and she loved every student she ever taught. She even did some coaching while she was at Marlow.
As her health declined and she could no longer be cared for at home, she lived at the Effingham Care Center and made the most of it as only a strong woman of great faith in her condition could do. The Lord took her home and she was at peace. We know she is rejoicing in God’s house and laughing with her loved ones.
Perhaps it is fitting that most of us never knew Mrs. Weta was actually “Mrs. America”. She left that little tidbit for us to discover. As Jennifer Rahn said, “This lady set the standard for what I believe a school principal should be. She fussed at us and called our mommas when we were not ideal students. And she loved us and laughed! She had the jolliest laugh and the most love for all of us. We always wanted to please her because we were loved and cherished. She was a treasured slice of the history of education in Effingham County. I never knew her name was America! Doesn’t that just elevate her to a whole other level? I know that it has been a privilege to be one of ‘her kids’. Her legacy lives on.”
I, too, was thankful to her for letters of recommendation for college nursing school. Whatever I learned about English and life from her was a foundation for writing college essays and ultimately this column. She was complementary of my articles. As my life turned unexpectedly from my ability to practice nursing, to my hobby of historical research and writing this column in the local paper, I am indebted to Mrs. Weta for English and grammar instruction and for allowing me to find a way to cope with my limitations through pen and paper. “Mrs. America” may you now rest from your labors. I know God greeted you and said, ‘Well done my good and faithful servant.’”
This was written by Susan Exley from Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos or historical information to share contact her at 912-754-6681 or email firstname.lastname@example.org