Louise Francis Walker (1949 – 1959)
My sister Weezie was born July 1, 1949 and named Louise Francis Walker. At the time I, Lucile Walker Hays (“Bebe”), was ten years old and my other sister, Elaine Walker Fiske, was three. Louise was nicknamed Weezie by Elaine who could not say Louise. Weezie was crazy about horses, and so in 1958 our parents, Lucile and Elisha Walker, Jr. gave Elaine and Weezie horses for Christmas. The horses were kept at a stable which was within walking distance through the woods behind our house. The girls had permission to walk to the stable to go riding.
On Saturday morning of Labor Day weekend 1959, Weezie decided to visit her horse. There was one boy working in the stable, but he paid little attention to Weezie as he was used to her visits. She took a pail of oats and went into the paddock to get her horse. She walked too close behind another horse that was peacefully grazing. As it was a still, hot day, he was being bitten by flies, and kicked out at the moment Weezie passed behind him. His hoof struck Weezie in the back of the head and she died about six hours later.
The following year my father, during a visit with his best friend and lawyer, asked his advice on how to create something positive from this awful tragedy. His friend suggested establishing a foundation in Weezie’s name dedicated to helping children, and thus the Weezie Foundation was born.
In 1994, I was asked to lunch by Amazing Grace Grossman and the topic was the library. Most of us remember the old children’s room. It was in the basement – dark and crowded, and smelling of mildew. The board decided to take part of the garden to build a separate children’s library, and Grace felt it was a perfect fit for the Weezie Foundation. Indeed it was. The Foundation gave half the cost of the building, with a challenge to the Atheneum Board of Trustees to raise the other half. Grace insisted it be called the Weezie Library for Children. The Weezie Foundation also endowed the Children’s Librarian position with a similar challenge completed in 2005.
Weezie’s Foundation is one of the great treasures in my life. It has given me tremendous joy to be involved with many people and organizations making a difference for children on our island and elsewhere. My sister Elaine, her children and my daughters all have different Foundation projects, including schools and a children’s garden. I think Weezie visits them regularly, as well as all the other places her spirit has touched through her Foundation. To me, she will always be my beautiful little sister who is ten years old.
Lucile Walker Hays
Come visit us at the Weezie Library for Children
You’ll find a wide range of materials in different formats – books, Playaways, DVDs, magazines, reference materials, and foreign language books. Read & Play Kits for younger children to explore a theme by pairing books with games in one bag!
Check out STEM kits, which include books and toys for children to explore STEM principles. You can also find a selection of board games for family fun on a rainy day.
Throughout the year, the Weezie Library offers a full range of free Programs and Events for children. Please check our calendar for a complete list of current programs.