Pheme Weeks—A Virtuous Woman Who Took Her Children’s Education Seriously

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Rocheforte L. Weeks was truly a blessed man. He was not only intellectually gifted and a good speaker; he was also a prolific father. But above all, we believe, God gave him a wonderful wife.

We say Eupheme Weeks was a wonderful wife because, yes, she took good care of her husband and supported him completely in his career as the longest serving and probably most accomplished President of the University of Liberia (UL).

Both he and his beautiful young bride were people of destiny. They met not long before they found themselves on the same ship in 1949 bound for the United States, en route for further studies at Howard University; she to study Secretarial Science and he, Law.

She was not at the time looking for a future companion. We do not think that was yet on her mind. She and her esteemed father, Daubeny Cooper, popularly called Dr. Juris because he was a good lawyer who loved his profession, knew why she was traveling to the US—to study Secretarial Science and return to serve her country in this vital field. At the time there were too few professional secretaries, and none of college caliber. Mrs. Lois Pitman, the professional stenographer whom Rev. Conrad Porte had invited to Liberia along with her husband, had served for many years as a secretary in the Liberian Senate. She later joined the Firestone Plantations Company, where she spent the rest of her life.

Dr. Juris hoped that his daughter would soon return and help to make a difference. The Eugenia Simpson Cooper School of Stenography, teaching Shorthand and Typing, was yet to be established. And Theresa Leigh Sherman was still a very young Convent girl at St. Theresa’s, not even thinking of starting the Leigh-Sherman College of Secretarial Science, today the nation’s leading Secretarial School.

In 2013, at age 86, Pheme Weeks told the Daily Observer that she thanked God “for everything He has done in my life!” What did she mean?

The good Lord had brought her successfully through a very serious illness, and several of her eight children, especially her second daughter, the one named after her, had sacrificially helped her mom get to England for successful emergency treatment.

But the recent past was not all Mrs. Weeks was thanking God for. She remembered, too, that way back in 1949 when her father had sent her to the USA for further studies, it was on that ship that she met her future companion, young Rocheforte Lafayette Weeks. By the time they arrived in New York, they were deeply in love; and now in School at Howard, they were married on April 1, 1950. But it was no April Fool!

The marriage was destined to be one of the most blessed and productive. In September 1950, Rocheforte Jr. was born; followed quickly by their first daughter, Ophelia (Fifi), and in rapid succession six more children, all of whom became highly successful professionals.

Today, three of these children hold top positions in Liberia. The second, Pheme, a lawyer like her father, is Chair of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA). Fifi, the first sister, who earned a Ph.D in Neurology and became full professor at Florida International University, is now Vice President of Science and Technology at the University of Liberia. Fifi was only seven when President W.V.S. Tubman appointed her father, Rocheforte Sr., at the young age of 35, as UL President. Fifi told the Daily Observer last Thursday, the day her mother died, that she has spent “all of my life on a university campus.” That seems to be her destiny.

A third Weeks, Milton, the second youngest son, is Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia.

The eldest of the Weeks children, Rocheforte Jr., was during the 1970s and 1980s running a highly successful electrical company, importing and distributing electrical equipment and supplies. But this viable Liberian business was destroyed by the war. How many times must we tell Liberians that WAR IS NOT GOOD? Who benefited from that war today? Only foreigners! The importers and retailers of electrical equipment—and everything else—are solely Lebanese and Indians.

The Weeks children have all made their parents proud.

But how did Pheme Weeks do it? The world knows that she was married to one of the busiest men in Liberia, the UL President, responsible for the tertiary education of thousands of students. His wife supported him in all this. She made sure that Rocheforte was prepared each day for work. Some students, all successful professionals today, have told the Daily Observer that they came to school early each morning “just to see Dr. Weeks, impeccably dressed, walking to his office like a statesman.”

But Pheme Weeks did far more than that! She meticulously took care of her children’s primary and secondary education, and in doing so, laid the foundation for their academic and professional success—all eight of them.

We pray that all Liberian mothers will follow Mrs. Pheme Weeks’ sterling example. That is why it is important for the government and all of us to take our children’s education seriously.

That is why GOL and all of us should also take Adult Education seriously. Everyone cannot be a Pheme Weeks. But at least if all our women could be exposed to Adult Literacy, they would better appreciate the importance of their children’s education and help them through it.

GOL and the rest of us should also go on to develop Liberia’s primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions that will lead our children toward academic and professional success, just as Pheme Weeks has done for her children.

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