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Family, friends recall 'The Law'

By JAMIE MALERNEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 13, 2001


BROOKSVILLE -- Circuit Judge Daniel Merritt fondly remembers his fourth-grade teacher, a "great Southern lady" who was disciplined but fun, and pretty enough to capture the attention of even the most rambunctious little boys in her classroom.

On Monday, Lucile Weeks Law, 84, died at home with her family after a long illness. A lifelong Brooksville resident and a Hernando County elementary school teacher for more than three decades, Mrs. Law is remembered by friends, family and former students as a strong-willed woman who inspired those around her.

"She taught back in a time when most of us kids were poor, but she still encouraged all of us and opened up some windows that we all wouldn't have necessarily had," Merritt said. "She was one of my all-time favorite schoolteachers. She was one of the ones who made it easy and fun to learn."

In addition to being a teacher, Mrs. Law was a wife, mother and community activist. She was a founding member of the Brooksville Golf & Country Club, to which she and her husband donated 160 acres of land.

When Mrs. Law wasn't practicing her golf swing, she was always involved in some sort of project, friends said. Gardening. Fixing up old houses and reselling them. Working with the Junior Service League, the Brooksville Woman's Club, Brooksville Music Club, First Baptist Church of Brooksville and United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Her relatives, and her husband's, were some of the earliest Brooksville families, said Jim Kimbrough, chairman and chief executive officer for SunTrust Bank Nature Coast. Both of his children benefited from having her as a teacher and role model, he said.

"She is a part of this county's heritage. That's for sure," he said.

Mrs. Law and her husband, Neil Law Jr., were approaching their 65th wedding anniversary this year. They were high school sweethearts who started dating in their sophomore year, when they were playing on their school's basketball teams.

"Lucile was one of the best forwards on the team," Law said with a soft chuckle Monday. "We had a blind date, and I started going with her -- and I couldn't stop."

Neil Law Jr. proposed to his future wife out on the front porch swing of her parents' house in Brooksville. The couple had one son, Neil "Freddy" Law III, who remembered his mother's strict but loving nature on Monday.

"She demanded the truth, sincerity. She taught me in the fourth grade and I caught it both ways, at home and at school," her son said with a wry grin. "She was always there for advice and encouragement. She taught me never to quit. She had a saying: If there's a will, there's a way."

Her husband also joked Monday about how his wife's old students called her "The Law." But he knew her mischievous side, he said. Mrs. Law loved to dance and tell the occasional bawdy joke.

"We had such a good time together," he said with a wistful smile and a faraway look in his eyes.

Visitation for friends will be held today from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Merritt Funeral Home Brooksville Chapel. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church of Brooksville. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hernando-Pasco Hospice, the American Heart Association or the Hernando Community Blood Bank.

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