A few weeks ago a childhood mentor, friend, and leader went home to be with the Lord. Since that time I have been reflecting on the importance of leaving a legacy.
W. Jack Jeffrey, or as many of us called him, Mr J, had been the Scout Master for Boy Scout Troop 63 in Melissa, WV for over 50 years before he turned the ropes over to others. During his time as Scout Master, he saw over 100 boys attain the highest rank of Eagle Scout.
(Eagle Scout Ceremony. Mr J’s very first three Eagles!)
(Nothing brought Mr J more joy than Eagle Ceremonies. Unless of course it was his own son. Pictured here with his son and wife-Mrs J.)
(100th Eagle Scout Ceremony. Pictured too was my brother and parents who remained on the committee at Troop 63 for over 30 years. I remember this night. It was so incredibly special. 100 Eagles! What a Legacy!)
When my brother was a Cub Scout, my mom was the leader and I was the mascot, aka the tag along. I attended all the field trips, meetings, and everything in between. My first memories of Mr. J. are when my brother bridged from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts in 1983. During their first meeting, I be-bopped my way in to assume my position as the mascot of Boy Scout Troop 63. I was so excited to embark on this new adventure as I skipped right into that church building and right into Mr. J. He picked me up and I told him I was so excited to be the new tag along. He looked me square in the eyes and said, “Little miss, you can’t do that here. This is just for boys.” I was crushed. My dreams of being a tag along and sharing these cool adventures came to an abrupt end. But you know what? I was okay with that. I was able to attend field trips and many other events through the years. Besides, while my brother and Dad forged a friendship with Mr. J., I also developed a bond with him that lasted a lifetime. He always embraced me as if I was his own daughter and always called me “Little Miss.” That was his nickname for me that stuck throughout the years until the Good Lord called him home.
(Myself at an Eagle Ceremony. Talking to Paul Bowen. Paul went to church with me and was part of Troop 63, got his Eagle under Mr. J and went on to serve himself for many years at Troop 63)
Mr. J. was truly one of a kind and I cried like a baby when he passed onto glory. As I cried, I began to reflect on the last 34+ years that I knew him. My memories were filled with the family nights, Scout Sundays, Eagle ceremonies, fund-raisers and all the time I was blessed with the opportunity to spend with Mr. J. He spent a lot of time with those many boys, molding them into men. I often wondered if he spent more time with those boys than he did his own family. Obviously he didn’t, but that was the legacy he left and what a legacy it was!
Legacy is defined as the need or desire to be remembered for what you have contributed to the world. Some people do large things that leave a lasting impact on the world. However, many people like Mr. J. do small things that leave footprints on the hearts of those he impacted. He left a legacy on those boys who are now men and have children of their own.
We all want a life that matters to those around us – our husbands, our wives, our kids, friends, family, community. As members of the body of Christ, we don’t want our legacy to matter for our selfish gain. We want our life to matter for the Lord. We are saved not by faith, but through grace. We also know that once we are saved, we have a chance to share the Lord with others. Missionaries go into foreign countries and leave their legacy of faith, but not all of us are called to live overseas in foreign soil. We are all called to leave a legacy right in our own community.
That is exactly what W. Jack Jeffrey did. Here are some tributes from his Scouts:
“I just found out earlier today that my Scout Master, Jack W. Jeffery died this morning. Mr. J, as all of us Boy Scouts always called him, served this Great Nation as a Marine during WWII in the South Pacific. He came back home to West Virginia, worked for, and retired from Special Metals….. aka, The Nickel Plant. In the mean time, he became involved in Scouting, and became one of the most revered Scout Leaders, not just in this area, but in this Nation. Mr. J is one of a very small handful of Scouters to serve as a Scout Leader for over Fifty consecutive years. Mr. J became involved in Scouting, as I understand it, when his oldest son joined the Boy Scouts. He became the Scout Master of Troop 63, in Melissa, WV, in the Tri-State Area Council for the BSA. I joined his Troop at the age of 11 back in 1977. At that time, his youngest boy was a senior member of the Troop, and when he received his Eagle Scout Award, it was the very first Eagle Ceremony I had ever attended. Mr. J had said he would leave Scouting once his youngest aged out, but that did not happen. Mr. J was driven by a devotion that very few people will ever understand. He stayed with it for over 50 years. During that time, he raised over 100 Eagle Scouts. I am very Honored to say that I was one of those Eagles, and my younger brother followed suit a few years later. Troop 63, his Troop, became known as the Nest of Eagles. If anyone thinks one single Eagle got “an easy pass”, they had better guess again. Mr. Jeffrey was an absolute stickler to adhering to the toughest of standards, and I can assure you that he held every single Scout’s feet to the fire, and that no one ever received special treatment. Mr. J was known for running a “tight troop” that far exceeded standards all of the time. He, and his trusted staff of adult leaders, were known for taking young boys who were wet behind the ears, and immersing them in a Scouting experience that taught them life skills, survival skills, respect, responsibility, and so many other things, and turning those young boys into very respectable citizens of society as Young Gentlemen. Make no mistake, those who grew up as one of Jack Jeffrey’s Scouts, regardless of whether they left as an Eagle Scout or not, left with a set of skills and respect that are missing from most youth today. We may never know for sure just how many lives were touched in a positive manner by Jack W. Jeffrey, but I can assure you that I am one, and I know many more. Most of us will always remember “The Old Man” as a Wisened Father Figure who selflessly shared his knowledge, skills and Sage Like Wisdom. Mr. J, you will be missed by many, for more years to come than I care to count. I will simply say Thank You for the sacrifices you made to help so many young men, for your amazing dedication to a cause you ALWAYS believed in, and for doing your very best each and every single day to make a positive difference in the world. May God Bless you, your Family, and everyone who will miss you so very much. Rest In Peace Mr. Jeffrey. You have made us all very proud.“ ~Lee Bias
(I did not have a picture of Lee, so I used his brother Matt:))
“Great tribute, when we went to arrowhead for our first summer camp there we were referred to as Jacks Army. We were the only ones in fun uniform at retreat, followed marching commands, and could maintain a proper formation. The other troops felt pressure to perform better that week. jack installed excellence wherever he went whatever we did. He will truly be missed.” ~Doug Triplett
(My brother Doug at his Eagle Scout Ceremony. He was Mr. J’s 50th Eagle which was a big deal then. Pictured here with my mom, my dad, myself, and Senator Jay Rockefeller. He was an invited guest.)
“Very well spoken Lee, and as one of his Scouts at the same time as you, I can equally agree he was a very good mentor and instilled many qualities that served me well in my 23 years of military service. My father graduated high school with Mr. Jefferies and served in the USMC during WWII with him, and always spoke very highly of him. He will truly be missed and the world is a little be sadder at his passing.” ~Vincent Kessler
“So I woke to the news that one of the greatest men I ever knew had passed away. W. Jack Jeffrey was, next to my own father, probably the most influential man in my life during my formidable years. He was tough, scary (when he had to be), loving, caring and kind. He taught us so much and was alway willing to “jerk a knot in your tail” when you got out of line. The times I spent with him, I will never forget. He taught me, and many other young men, to be Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Curtious, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent. And to always be prepared!! This is a picture taken a few years ago. Mr. Jeffrey was of course telling one of the many stories only he could tell. I cherish this, and the many other times I got to spend with him over the past few years along with all in my earlier days. Heaven gained a truly wonderful soul. Thank you Lord for this life and the lives he touched while you let us have him. You will be missed Mr. J.” ~Brian Lingenfelter
(Brian pictured in this group on a trip to the Grand Canyon. This trip my brother and Dad went too and are also pictured.)
“Brian, that was beautifully said, and I couldn’t agree more. I’m so thankful that you and Jason had this man in your lives for so long. He truly did teach you all of those things. He was a great example of a Godly man who was tough and gruff sounding, but would cry when any of “his boys” achieved the rank of an Eagle Scout. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to talk with him a few months ago. We talked and laughed about you kids’ adventures at Scout Camp. And I thanked him for all he did and told him how much we all loved him. His reply, through tears, was, “well, I always loved you all, too”. I’m glad he is at rest now. We will always remember W. Jack Jeffrey!” ~Deb Lingenfelter
“I was out of the country when I found out about your dad passing. He was a tremendous influence in my life, a great mentor and father figure. Words can’t express the sorrow I feel. He was a truly great man who had a huge impact on everyone that knew him, whether they were a Scout or not. He will be sorely missed. Prayers to you guys from the Ashworth’s.” ~Scott Ashworth
Books are filled with great men and women who have left legacies. We grew up listening to stories of people in our communities leaving a legacy. These magnificent people never sat around with that expectation though. Those of us who are in the Lord, we normally don’t sit around with that expectation either. We just take to heart the great commandment to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. To love our neighbor as ourself.” That is what Mr J did. I asked his daughter Heidi when Mr. J. gave his life to Christ. He made that decision in 1964. Since that time, Mr. J’s great mission wasn’t to be the best Scout Master (although I think he certainly was). His great mission wasn’t about the awards on his chest or the plaques on his wall – even though he had many of those from his military career and later as Scout Master. I don’t think Mr. J. had a selfish bone in his body. He had a higher calling. He knew his great purpose in life was to serve and glorify the Lord. Mr. J. served as the Boy Scout Troop 63 Scout Master for over 50 years in our little town of Melissa, WV. He touched hearts and he changed lives. He didn’t have to speak a Bible Passage to know he was a follow of Christ because he lived them.
Watch this video of Mr J…..
I was honored to be the “Little Miss” who first met Mr. J. as a scrawny 5-year-old tag along. He was a shining example to me even if I couldn’t be the mascot for Troop 63. I watched him. I learned from him. I cherished the lessons he taught. As I read the Facebook posts about Mr. J. and his passing, it was obvious how many lives he touched. Scouts drove from all over the country to his viewing and funeral. His Boy Scouts, who are now men with children of their own, served as pallbearers. What kind of legacy did Mr. J. leave behind? His visitation was scheduled to end at 8pm, but ran past 10pm because of the line of people still waiting to pay respect. That’s just a small glimpse of the legacy Mr. J. left behind.
I think the lesson from Mr. J. is about legacy. Looking back on his life, one might wonder, “What is my legacy?” What is our legacy to our family? To our friends? To our church? Our community? Most importantly, what is our legacy in the mission field for the Lord? When we are called home, will our legacy be heard throughout heaven “Well done my good and faithful servant.”? I can see it as I wrap up this post. I can see Mr. J. in Heaven, his body restored, telling his stories. He left a mark on everyone he touched. He left us a legacy.