Harber’s History Lesson: Vester Waldron contributed much to La Vergne

Susan Harber, Daily News Journal, January 3, 2015

La Vergne has an enduring and rich history.  The town was named for Francis Leonard de Roulhac de La Vergne, who was born in Limoges, France, in 1767.

Upon arrival to America, he settled in northwestern Rutherford County in 1822 and made this area a real home.  He was trained as both doctor and lawyer but never practiced these trades widely. He had cattle on the ‘green’ termed as ‘la vergne.’  Today the landowner is buried atop a hill in Interchange City.  The pioneer’s namesake (1852) was designated by the postmaster for the town on the day Roulhac died; and, in turn, La Vergne thrived over time.

LaVergne developed into a bustling freight station with the presence of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad in 1851.  However, the town was rebuilt after destruction of the Battle of Stones River and restored again in 1900 after two tornadoes.  La Vergne was incorporated in three junctures: 1860, 1925 and 1972.  In 1881, the initial incorporation of LaVergne was rescinded based on having no elected officials to organize the town.

What caught my eye was one single man, whose contributions were unending and still in tact to this day.  Buster Vester Waldron was born in

LaVergne's Vester Waldron

LaVergne’s Vester Waldron

LaVergne on July 19, 1925, to Emmett Washington (1889-1956) and Daisy Mae Taylor Waldron.  His six siblings included Glen, Roy Lee, Fred, Emmett Jr., Paul, and Gertrude.  The family lineage was on the scene early in 1815 with patriarch William Waldron, and large families followed.

Vester’s grandfather James (1862-1949) resided in Smyrna and had 13 children.  His great-grandfather William Van Buren Waldron (1815-1906) lived in Rutherford County with 12 children.  The original home place of the Waldron family was in Cane Ridge. Vester married Elma Charlene Jackson Waldron, who was well known with her wonderful recipes.  They had four children: David, Charles, Greg and Teresa. He was also blessed with 12 grandchildren.

Vester dedicated 34 years to public service in La Vergne and was a key player in the development of the town we see today.  He was a Smyrna High graduate in 1943 and entered the Navy in 1944, courageously serving in the Pacific during World War II. Both of his brothers Glen and Fred were in the Army Air Corps in this war.

At the age of 31, Vester sought the role of county commissioner in 1956 and campaigned with immense vision.  At the time, the town had a population less than 1,000 residents.

He had big dreams of community involvement and was focused on the betterment of the town.  For three decades, he worked tirelessly on the commission and was elected as first mayor on February 29, 1972.  His fellow early commissioners were Phillip Mankin, Jack Moore and A.C. Puckett. In the early 1970s, the commission met in the LaVergne Civic Auditorium.

Vester assumed the mayoral role for three terms from 1972-1980 and 1984-1988. During his tenure, he was instrumental in bringing Bridgestone to LaVergne, building the prospering Waldron Road Interchange and erecting a new sewer system, as the city grew by large numbers.  He also developed the LaVergne Library and city park system.

Vester was a busy man, who rarely garnered private time.  He was a partner in Waldron Enterprises from 1972-2002, and he served on the founding board of Citizens Bank (1973-1990) and on the board of First City Bank.

He was a lifelong member of LaVergne Church of Christ and active elder from 1970-1993 along with his brother, Glen. He also was on the board of Middle Tennessee Christian School from 1962-1977.  The Charlene Waldron Library was dedicated in 2001 at MTCS. Moreover, the Vester and Charlene Waldron Endowment scholarship continues today at Harding University. Vester was known as a mentor to young real estate agents and insisted to ‘always put God first and you will be successful.’

In the lineage of Vester is E.S.B. Waldron (1851-1924), who was a well-known gospel preacher and trailblazer in the Restoration Movement. Rev. Waldron is buried today in the Waldron Cemetery on Carothers Road in LaVergne.

Vester’s brother, Roy Lee Waldron, was visible on the Board of Education from LaVergne and an active leader in the school system. Roy Waldron Schools carry his name today.

Vester held great respect in LaVergne and was known as a true gentleman. His strong traits were honesty and ardent integrity, as he dedicated a lifetime to his beloved community. His wife Charlene died in 2000; and Vester passed away on March 30, 2002 with burial in Mapleview Cemetery.

When I drive through the 25 square miles of LaVergne and turn onto Waldron Road, I reflect on the numerous accomplishments of Vester. The namesake continues with the election of Dennis Waldron as mayor in 2014. The town now has 35,000 residents with 14,000 acres of sheer beauty with the presence of Percy Priest Lake. Vester laid a strong foundation with immense fortitude to create a strong economic town that provided families a wonderful place to live.

I have personally known Vester’s nieces and nephew Bobby Waldron in Smyrna; and the family legacy continues as outstanding and honorable. Vester Waldron was on a mission to enhance and magnify LaVergne and gave his all to a town he called home.

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