story by Sharon Verbeten
OK, so Ephraim is smaller than 3 square miles and is home to fewer than 300 residents—probably fewer in winter. So you’d be correct to think everyone probably knows everyone, by name or at least by sight.
But the 51-year-old Weborg, a multi-generational native of the area, has become such a fixture that he truly has become known as the Face of Ephraim. And this past year, he won the Golden Heart Lifetime of Service Volunteer of the Year Award from the Volunteer Center of Door County. So, clearly, his influential reach extends far beyond the three square miles of his Northern Door hometown.
That’s no small feat for any person. But it’s an even bigger feat when you consider that he is “differently abled.” But for Scotty, he’s channeled his “different” abilities into being a self- professed “jack of all trades,” volunteering at every turn—and the community couldn’t be more proud or respectful of him.
An Uncertain Future
When Scotty was about 3 years old, his parents, Niles and the late Joan, realized their son had some cognitive delays. “They did not have a name for [his disability],” says Niles, 67, a native Door County shipbuilder who served 34 years as chief of the Ephraim Fire Department.
Initially worried about Scotty’s future, the Weborgs mainstreamed him into whatever school systems were available; Niles said there were no programs for developmentally disabled children in Gibraltar at the time.
But Scotty has always managed to “fit in very well,” Niles says. “It’s just been stepping stones…Sunshine House [a service provider for those with developmental disabilities] in Sturgeon Bay uses him as a role model.”
And role model he is; just ask anyone. Terry Havel, assistant chief of the Ephraim FD has known Scotty for about 35 years.
“Scotty’s always there when you need him; he’s a good guy,” says Havel, adding that those around Scotty don’t really see his disability; they just see a friendly, helpful person. “The community, they take him [just] as Scotty.”
The late Jane Olson, a close family friend, thought so much of Scotty, she nominated him for the 2016 award. Her two-page nomination form covered scores of volunteer activities Scotty has undertaken, from his beloved fire department to the Ephraim Moravian Church his family attends to the Gibraltar Schools athletic department.
Olson elaborated, “The residents of Ephraim are thrilled that Scott is a member of their community…every day of the year, Scott conducts himself as if he has already earned one of your [awards]. He uses his God-given talents to improve the lives of others.”
A Fan of Packers and People
After Scotty graduated from Southern Door High School in 1985, the only county school at the time to have a program to suit Scotty’s unique needs, he worked at Sunshine House in Sturgeon Bay and later found a job at Scand Nursing Home in Sister Bay where he does a little bit of everything. But between work and his volunteering, there’s little down time for this born and bred Packers fan (ask to see his Cheesehead fire helmet or the scores of Reggie White memorabilia in his room!).
His biggest passion is the Ephraim Fire Department—it’s just in his family’s blood; his father and grandfather were both chiefs and his brother, Bill, served as well. Sadly, Bill died in 2004 en route to a fire. Scotty honored that memory by raising $5,000 by selling T-shirts and raising yet another $3,500 in donations for the fire museum, located in the old Village Fire Station, which honors his brother’s legacy.
Since 2004, Scotty has been a charter member, advocate and dedicated worker for the museum. He also serves as a knowledgeable tour guide for the museum. “If everyone knew as much about the fire department as he does, they’d have the best fire department in the country,” boasts his father Niles.
In 2006, Scotty followed in the Weborg family tradition by being named Fyr Bal Chieftain—an honorary title embedded in the village’s Norwegian tradition. Niles, his wife and Niles’ in-laws all were honored with the title as well.
Along with attending most of the FD meetings and training sessions, Scotty also assists with fire prevention programs at Gibraltar School and the Sunshine House. And fire safety is never far from his mind at the Peninsula State Park Nature Center—psst! That’s him inside the Smokey the Bear costume!
That gig is ideal for Scotty, who has a special affinity for children. “Scott’s love for children provides them with good memories, a good start with the church family, and their parents feel they have left their children in good hands,” noted Olson on her nomination form, speaking of his work in the nursery at the Ephraim Moravian Church.
And at the fire museum, Scotty “makes sure the children feel at home…he creates a forever memory for children,” Olson said.
Heart of Gold
Scotty’s accomplishments as a volunteer were spilling off the two-page nomination form. But for Scotty, it’s all in a day’s work.
But don’t be fooled—as much as he loves to do unto others, he wanted that Golden Heart Award! He was one of seven finalists, and Niles said, “There were some heavy hitters against him…[I told him] ‘If you don’t get picked, it’s still an honor.’”
Scotty smiled and added, “I prayed to God I’d get it.” And that dream came true.
But it’s clear to anyone who meets the mild-mannered and soft-spoken Scotty that awards aren’t part of his motivation.
“Volunteering is in Scotty’s blood and heart,” noted Olson.
“He may not know the meaning of altruism, but he is a living and breathing example. He has a heart of gold and happily spends most of his free time helping others.”