Fort Worth

Texas Girls’ Choir mourns loss of leader

Friends and members of the Texas Girls’ Choir on Monday mourned the loss of Debra “Debi” Weir, the choir’s executive director, who died Saturday after a rollover accident on Interstate 30 in Fort Worth.

“Our hearts are broken, but we know that her profound influence on our organization is eternal, and we will continue this legacy in her honor,” says a message on the Texas Girls’ Choir website.

Weir, 63, was pronounced dead at John Peter Smith Hospital Saturday, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s website.

“We will remember her as one who loved our Texas Girls' Choir with all her heart, mind, body and soul,” said Layne Trent, acting executive director and a close friend of Weir’s. “We will remember her tenacity and her fierce stubborn desire for excellence and sheer perfection. She believed we could change the world if we tried hard enough.”

Members of the Texas Girls’ Choir community paid tribute to her on Facebook Monday. Friends also made plans to honor her wishes to avoid a sad service and instead are going to have a potluck Monday. Funeral arrangements are pending.

“She wanted her friends to eat dinner together and tell fun stories,” Trent said. “She wanted laughter and happiness. We will give her that Monday night.”

The potluck allows her friends to celebrate Weir as her favorite season, Christmas, approaches. Weir’s favorite color was red and she loved getting on the bus with 40 young choir girls en route to four or five holiday performances.

Weir was one of the choir’s original 16 members, Trent said. She sang and traveled with the choir for seven or eight years. After graduating from Texas Wesleyan University, Weir helped founder and director Shirley Carter during her spare time.

“She made the choir an irreplaceable piece of her world — even as a child,” Trent said.

She devoted much her life to the needs of the organization, Trent said. In 1980, she became the administrative assistant — a role she had for 22 years. In 2002, she stepped in as executive director after Carter passed away.

The choir, headquartered in Fort Worth, was founded in 1962 and was the first girls’ choir in the U.S. to be incorporated, according to its website.

When Weir took the reins in 2002, the economy was down and so were donations.

“Folks wondered if the choir could survive the death of its founder and executive director,” Trent said, adding that Weir led the choir out of hard times.

Weir’s philosophy was to perform at any time possible, Trent said. The choir often performed at nursing homes during the holidays.

“She taught the girls that sharing the music with others was their responsibility as well as something they would receive benefits from,” Trent said. “She knew that music was a special gift.”

Staff writer Ryan Osborne contributed to this report.

Diane A. Smith: 817-390-7675, @dianeasmith1