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Tom Lehmier - 2/13/23 - 11/9/13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Tom Lehmier Dedicated 77 Years to Catholic Scouting

 In Boy Scouting, “Life Scout” is a rank earned by fulfilling leadership roles, completing service hours, and earning merit badges.
    A Life Scout is a role model and troop leader, and someone who encourages other Scouts in their abilities.
    Tom Lehmier is a living example of what it means to be a Life Scout.
    He’s devoted a staggering 77 years to the Boy Scouts, beginning at the age of 12, when he joined a troop in a coal mining town in western Pennsylvania.
    In the 77 years since, Mr. Lehmier has been an Eagle Scout, Scout Master, Scout Executive, Troop organizer, and all-around leader and role model dedicated to the Boy Scouts, its members and the merits of the 102-year-old organization.
    Mr. Lehmier, who will turn 90 on Feb. 13, is retiring from a very active role with the Boy Scouts. At his final meeting of the Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting last month, members presented him with a much-deserved papal blessing from the Holy Father.
    The presentation moved a truly humble Mr. Lehmier to tears.
    “I get a lot of credit for my work in Scouting, but I don’t deserve it, and that’s not false modesty,” he said. “The leaders I had and the committee members I worked with were wonderful. I’ve just been able to take advantage of good people.”
    Mr. Lehmier’s Scouting experience began in 1935, when he joined the troop sponsored by a Methodist church in Bakerton, Pa.
    “My whole life changed when I joined the Scouts. I just blossomed,” he said.
    Eventually, Sacred Heart Catholic Parish came to sponsor the troop. A young Tom climbed the Scout ranks, earning Eagle Scout in 1940. He doesn’t recall his Eagle Scout project, but he’ll never forget how he managed to step forward when the troop found itself in need of a Scout Master.
    The boys searched for an adult leader, but, finding none, Tom decided to step forward. At 16, he was too young to register as a Scout Master, so the boys asked a local janitor to sign his name to the form, and Tom did all the work.
    “There’s no question – Scouting became my life,” Mr. Lehmier said.
    Following high school, he joined the Marines, and served in the Pacific during World War II. On two occasions, he was recommended for officer training, but turned down the opportunity for promotion.
    “I told my commanding officer that my goal in life was to be a school teacher and a Scout Master, and that I wasn’t going to deviate from that goal,” he said.
    Mr. Lehmier stayed true to his word. After being discharged from the Marines in 1945, he entered St. Francis College, where he earned a degree in education. All the while, he remained involved in Scouting, even as he dated his wife-to-be, Mary.
    “I’m grateful that she was supportive of my work with the Scouts,” Mr. Lehmier said. “After we first met, I used to break dates with her because I had to go on a camp out with the Scouts. Lucky for me, she understood.”
    Tom and Mary raised a beautiful family, and their sons were Life Scouts. Mrs. Lehmier passed away a few years ago, several weeks shy of their 62nd anniversary.
    Talking about his Scouting experiences, Mr. Lehmier never fails to talk about his beloved wife. Nor does he forget to mention his mentor, the late Father Lawrence Gross, who was named chaplain of the Boy Scouts in the Diocese of Harrisburg when Bishop George Leech welcomed the organization as one of its ministries.
    Father Gross and Mr. Lehmier worked side-by-side in their promotion of Scouting and in developing the leadership of its members.
    Not long before Mrs. Lehmier’s death, an ailing Father Gross came to the Lehmier home to hear her Confession. It’s a poignant memory that Mr. Lehmier cherishes. Father Gross died in 2009.
    “I love them both and I miss them both,” Mr. Lehmier said. “God put them into my life, and I’ve thanked him so much for them.”
    Undoubtedly, countless Boy Scouts and Scout leaders have thanked God for Mr. Lehmier. He’s the founder of Troop 142 at St. James Parish in Lititz, a group that he formed at the request of the pastor in 1967. On Dec. 8 of this year, the troop will recognize its 120th Eagle Scout.
    Considering Mr. Lehmier’s passion for Scouting, keen leadership and refreshing sense of humor, it’s hard to image that he’ll fully “retire” from Scouting. It’s always been a part of him, and surely always will be.
    “I’m just the luckiest guy in the world, and I mean that with all my heart,” he said. “We have 70 kids in our troop. I know every one of them, and I love them all. I get back far more than I give.”
    “Scouting is more important today than it ever was,” Mr. Lehmier remarked. “Our society has become less ethical and more cynical. It we don’t plant the seeds of decency and morality in our youth, where will our society go?
    I figure if God can use me in some way as an example to teaching what the Catholic Church teaches, then my 77 years in Scouting have been more than worthwhile.”

By Jen Reed
The Catholic Witness

 

 

 Updated 12/20/2013