A stack of black-and-white photos offers a peek into a family’s history. The photos span several decades. There’s barracks, with the old library standing to the side. There’s a pretty girl, circa-1940s. There are photos of men, young and old, in military-style uniforms. And there is a little boy. He’s first pictured at a few months old in a baby carriage. A few years later, the camera captures him play-acting outside. He’s shown under a Christmas tree and with grandparents.
In all the photos, the Institute is the common thread. The little boy is always wearing something that outright says “VMI” or – in the case of the play-acting photo – something that evokes the Institute (he’s pictured wearing a shako).
The little boy was Lanny Gault ’71. Eventually, he grew older and matriculated to VMI – like his father and grandfather before him.
The Institute has always been part of his life. When he matriculated, he doubtless received a sort of “post tour” along with his fellow rats. They all learned they’d live in the barracks, eat in Crozet and study in the library. For Gault, though, there was one more place on post that was particularly important. He didn’t need a tour guide (or cadre straining him, as was more likely the case) to tell him about this building: His grandfather’s house, which happened to overlook the Parade Ground.
Gault’s maternal grandfather was Col. Richard C. “Buck” Weaver ’921. He taught physics at VMI for 47 years, including during the first three years of Gault’s cadetship. Gault’s mother, Gertrude Weaver Gault, grew up in quarters above the old library. Cadets called her “Bucket,” the diminutive of her father’s nickname. She met Gault’s father, Ronald L. “Ronnie” Gault ’49B, at Lexington High School and they later married.
Though Gault grew up in Richmond, he was a frequent visitor to his grandparents’ house – and therefore, to VMI. From an early age, he was cheering for VMI’s football team. As a child, the football players were his heroes. He’s still an ardent fan, but back then he could recite every player’s name, hometown and weight. He remembers John McKenna’s undefeated 1957 football team.
One of his favorite football memories is a little later, from his rat year:
“We beat [Virginia Tech] 12-10 in Roanoke on Thanksgiving Day. VT missed a game-winning field goal at the end of the game,” he recalled. “What made it so special was VT had beaten us 70-12 the year before. Our win put our record at 6-4 and it prevented VT from going to a bowl game.”
He ranks the 2019 win over The Citadel in Charleston among the “top five” of VMI games he’s seen. Gault’s father and grandfather were also big football fans – and so was his mom. She was “a fanatical VMI fan,” Gault said.
When Gault’s father passed away in August 2019, he resolved to do something that would honor his father and something that would support VMI. The Institute is woven into the fabric of Gault’s, and his family’s, life and he wanted to give back. He wanted to include his mother, father and grandfather, too.
Gault had a little experience putting together a scholarship to support future cadets. He had already banded together with four of his roommates to begin the Class of 1971 Room 139 Scholarship. He settled on creating a scholarship with the family name.
Both Gault and his father spent time in service to VMI. Ronnie served with the Sportsman’s Club. This was the precursor to the Keydet Club, where his son is now part of the Board of Governors. Through his service with the Keydet Club, Gault has been able to meet and spend time with cadet-athletes. He understands that most alumni don’t have that chance. They come to post for games and return home soon after. Cadets are busy, and often lack time to meet with anyone outside their daily routines.
“I just wish more alumni could have the opportunity” to interact with cadet-athletes, Gault said. “I tell you, [they are] impressive.”
To continue supporting the cadet-athletes who he has spent his life cheering for, Gault worked through the Keydet Club to begin an athletic scholarship. He incorporated his mother’s maiden name, as well as his own last name. The Gault-Weaver Family Scholarship will “memorialize and honor the lives, lineage and service” of Gault’s family at VMI and will financially support future NCAA cadet-athletes at VMI.
Gault and his wife, Terry Sue, live in Midlothian, Virginia. Terry Sue is an athlete herself: She’s an eight-time All-American Masters swimmer and thus particularly supportive of cadet-athletes. Both look forward to continuing their interaction with future Keydets, particularly the ones their family scholarship will assist.
In the meantime, Gault is busy planning for a milestone. He’s co-chairing the Class of 1971 50th Reunion Committee, planning for the class’ biggest event yet – and encouraging his BRs to support his favorite cause: The Virginia Military Institute.
Molly Rolon Associate Editor/Writer
The associate editor/writer assists the editor-in-chief in various tasks relating to the production of quarterly and monthly publications, as well as prepares written materials for publication. The associate editor serves as liaison between class agents and chapter presidents and the Agencies’ publications, as well as provides backup photography for events.