‘He was a dynamic person.’ Man behind Mount Pleasant Colored School restoration dies

The man behind the restoration of Mount Pleasant Colored School in Weatherford has died.

Raymond George, 81, also began the restoration of the Prince Memorial CME Church and served six years on the Weatherford school board, on which he served two terms as the vice president. In 2018, he was named the Outstanding Citizen of the Year at the Weatherford chamber banquet, according to the Weatherford Democrat.

The restoration of the church, which was built in 1854 by slaves, is still ongoing. It’s the oldest African-American CME church in Texas and the second oldest in the nation, the Democrat reported.

Asked what kind of legacy Mr. George leaves behind, Weatherford City Councilwoman Heidi Wilder said, “it’s almost an impossible task to address because he was just so much.”

“He was a real hero for the city of Weatherford,” Wilder said. “I can’t tell you how much I admired and respected him ... He brought a community together and hopefully his legacy is the passion that he had for his community, the passion that he shared for the children, for just the community as a whole.”

Passion is what drove Mr. George and what led to the restoration of Mount Pleasant Colored School.

“I made a commitment to myself to get this done. Now here we are. This has been my dream — this is what I’ve been working for,” Mr. George told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 2015. He was 77 at the time.

Weatherford City Manager Sharon Hayes said she started to work with Mr. George regularly during the restoration.

“He and a group of people started to raise the money to make the purchase (of the school),” she said. But they still fell short of the goal, so the city helped with a grant to fulfill the rest of the funding.

“As soon as that was done, the group donated (the school) to the city,” she said.

Mr. George graduated from Mount Pleasant in 1953. He and other black students from Parker County then attended I.M. Terrell High School in Fort Worth to complete their education. His father drove Mr. George and other students an hour to and from Fort Worth every day for school. Later, Mr. George began to work for a phone company and remained there for 40 years.

He eventually became the first black phone installer in the area, according to Star-Telegram archives.

“I had gone into a lot of white people’s homes to install a phone and several times was asked to come to the back,” Mr. George told the newspaper in 2015.

He said people would write his supervisor and say how nice the “colored guy” was.

Wilder said that Mr. George was “as funny as he could be.”

“He was the kind of person you strive to be like because you want your legacy to be something like his,” she said. “He was a dynamic person.”

Hayes described him as gracious and kind.

“He always had a story to tell,” she said. “He was always very interested in being able to tell the side of history that he lived and things he endured. Recently he started working with our library to do a living history. He was just a very warm and welcoming guy and a joy to be around.”

A wake will be held on Friday at Northside Baptist Church, 910 North Main St., in Weatherford. A home going service will be held on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the same location.

There will be a jazz concert held in memory of Mr. George on Friday starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Marjorie Alkek Center of Fine Arts in Weatherford. Mr. George played the guitar and taught classes at Weatherford College, Fine Arts Dean Duane Durrett told the Democrat.

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Nichole Manna is an investigative reporter for the Star-Telegram. Before moving to Fort Worth in July 2018, she covered crime and breaking news in Tennessee, North Carolina, Nebraska and Kansas. She is a 2012 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and grew up in Florida.