Scouts give ‘Billy Jim’ a final salute


Scouts give ‘Billy Jim’ a final salute
Brentwood hero remembered as man ‘who made a difference’
By SUSAN T. LEATHERS
Brentwood Home Page
As the celebration of the life of William J. “Billy Jim” Vaughn came to a close Tuesday afternoon, at least 100 active and former members of Boy Scout Troop 1 filed out of the Brentwood United Methodist Church sanctuary before the casket containing the remains of their 97-year-old Scoutmaster followed during the recessional.
They formed two lines in the church’s circular narthex from the sanctuary doors to the awaiting motorcade.
Brentwood hero remembered as man ‘who made a difference’

By SUSAN T. LEATHERS

Brentwood Home Page
As the celebration of the life of William J. “Billy Jim” Vaughn came to a close Tuesday afternoon, at least 100 active and former members of Boy Scout Troop 1 filed out of the Brentwood United Methodist Church sanctuary before the casket containing the remains of their 97-year-old Scoutmaster followed during the recessional.
 
They formed two lines in the church’s circular narthex stretching from the sanctuary doors to the awaiting motorcade.
 
“He made a difference and that’s as big as it gets.” 

—  Bishop Robert Spain


“He had a wonderful way of drawing the best out of us.”
— Bishop Joe Pennel 
 
Quietly and on cue, all stood in silent salute as they honored the man who had helped shape their lives; the man who had shaped the lives of thousands of young men over the course of almost 75 years.
 
Earlier during the afternoon service, Assistant Scoutmaster Richard Drumright asked all active and past Troop 1 members and leaders to stand to recite the Boy Scout Pledge. At least a third of the congregation stood. They included 86-year-old Chad Drumright, who as a 12-year-old troop member in 1935 asked Vaughn to take leadership of the troop “temporarily” so it could continue.
 
If not the longest-active Boy Scout and Boy Scout leader in America, Billy Jim came close. He joined Troop 1, the first in Tennessee, in 1926. Except for the time he served overseas in World War II, he retained the title until his death on Saturday. He stayed actively involved until the past five or so years.
 
Bishop Joe Pennel shared that Billy Jim renewed and improved all those who came in contact with him. “He had a wonderful way of drawing the best out of us,” said Pennel, who was one of many pastors Billy Jim had at Brentwood Methodist over his lifetime.
 
Sharing Billy Jim’s legacy, Bishop Robert Spain said that when he came to Brentwood Methodist as a pastor, he heard about a member who worked at the United Methodist Publishing House. So he inquired of friends who worked there if they knew this Billy Jim Vaughn. Of course, they told him, but added that he spent most of his time playing tennis.

“I supposed that he worked there,” Spain said to laughter among those who knew Vaughn.
 

Billy Jim ended his 45-year career at the publishing house as its HR director. He then went on to begin a second career with Jane Jones Employment Service/Randstad. Spain said he learned on Saturday that Billy Jim had reported to work there as late as Dec. 3.
 
“He had an 83-year relationship in this church,” Spain told those gathered. He shared the story of Billy Jim and his scouts leading the “historic pilgrimage” that church members walked in the early 1970s, when the church relocated from Church Street to its present Franklin Road location.
 
The Boy Scouts of America organization was less than two years old when Vaughn was born in 1912, Spain shared. He told the story of how a young Billy Jim had idolized his own scoutmaster, Troop 1 founder Curtis B. Haley. Billy Jim became a “scoutmaster in waiting” under his tutelage, Spain said. And he replaced Haley when his mentor became ill and had to step down.
 
 “He’s known everywhere as the scoutmaster … but he was the proud father of everyone who came through Troop 1.”
 
To Joy Vaughn, Billy Jim’s wife of almost 25 years, Spain said “You enriched his life. You gave him added years and we’re all in your debt.
 
“He made a difference and that’s as big as it gets.”
 
 
 

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