Longtime Scoutmaster commemorated with memorial at BUMC

Longtime Scoutmaster commemorated with memorial at BUMC

William James “Billy Jim” Vaughn of Brentwood will always be remembered thanks to an outside memorial on the grounds of Brentwood United Methodist Church.

William James “Billy Jim” Vaughn of Brentwood would have turned 102 Tuesday. Vaughn was an active presence in the Brentwood community from the time he moved here in 1926 until he passed away on December 19, 2009 after complications with pneumonia.

Vaughn was the scoutmaster of Troop 1, Tennessee’s first Boy Scouts of America troop, and actively helped shape generations of young men who came through the troop for over 70 years. He retained the title of Scoutmaster until his death. In September 2010, the troop celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Through the fundraising efforts of longtime friend Dr. John Bright Cage, Vaughn will always be remembered thanks to an outside memorial on the grounds of Brentwood United Methodist Church which has been Troop 1’s longtime home. Cage is a member of the congregation, as was Vaughn until his death.

“The project came out of a sermon from our pastor,” Cage said. “We were challenged to take some money and use it for a greater good.

“So in a sense it all started with a five dollar bill.”

The sermon was called “Living a Better Story,” and according to Cage the message reflected what Vaughn stood for throughout his life.

“We all have within us something greater than we think we do. And that’s the kind of person (Vaughn) was. He had a true service heart, and was always worrying about others,” Cage said.

The area features an official 1937 R. Tait McKenzie “Ideal Scout” replica dedicated in Vaughn’s honor. The bronze life-size sculpture of a Boy Scout in uniform is a symbol of the organization’s highest ideals.

Cage also had a series of plaques installed, which list all the Eagle Scouts that passed under Vaughn’s tenure as well as biographical information.

“We also complied some of his favorite quotes,” Cage said. “They reflect what he care about most. He always put other first.”

Plaques at the memorial list some of Vaughn’s favorite quotes, biographical information and more

Vaughn stayed with the scouts for so long, Cage said, because it is the premiere organization for teaching young boys how to become men.

“He’s probably up there gathering scouts right now, wherever they are,” said Joy Vaughn, his wife of almost 25 years.

“He was the heart of our home. He’s here still in my heart and my life,” she said. “He was just magic, I can’t think of another way to describe him. He was never pessimistic even when he was sick.”

In 2003, Billy Jim Vaughn needed open heart surgery. Cage, who was also his cardiologist, informed him the surgery had never been performed on a person of his age, and explained the risks.

According to Cage, Vaughn responded, “You know, we need to do this surgery. I think there may be some other young Scouts out there that need my help.”

He went on to live another six years.

This story, along with many others, is included on one of the commemorate plaques.

Mr. Vaughn passed away at the age of 97.

Brentwood United Methodist Church is located on 309 Franklin Road in Brentwood.

Jonathan Romeo covers Brentwood for BrentWord Communications. Contact him at jonathan@brentwoodhomepage.com.

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