Rev. Dr. Wendell W. Weir
Loving husband, man of faith, talented pianist
The Reverend Doctor Wendell Wentworth Weir, a resident of Claremont Manor, died on October 1, 2014 at Pomona Valley Medical Center a few days after undergoing gallbladder surgery. He was 83.
Wendell Weir was born on March 14, 1931 in Indiana to Dr. Forrest C. Weir and Esther Weir. The Weir family, which also included another son, Ralph, moved often because Wendell’s father was also a minister and leader of the National Council of Churches and leader of the NAEIS.
Wendell’s first college experience began at Emory University on the Atlanta campus where he majored in pre-theology. While his family moved to Westwood and then Pacific Palisades, he transferred to UCLA, where he received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a Bachelor of Divinity in religion. Moving on to Yale University Grad School, he received a degree in Near Eastern language and literature. He received his PhD at University of Southern California in religion with a specialty in the Old Testament. As he worked on his dissertation, he served in several capacities, among them as teacher for two years at Chapman College in the areas of the New Testament, Greek and church history.
Rev. Weir was ordained in 1956 as a Congregational minister by his father, who was then director of the Church Federation of Los Angeles, followed by his first installation as assistant minister of the Bay Shore Congregational Church of Long Beach. This post was followed by a position as assistant minister of the First Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) in Pasadena from 1959 to 1960. His next assignment was in Avalon, Catalina where, for seven years, Rev. Weir was the pastor of the United Church of Christ.
While on the island, Wendell had a radio gig on KBIG-AM, now KBRT, called the “Service by the Sea,” a scholarly and devotional program that aired from 1967 to 1971. He also became a Rotarian while on the island, and was involved in many civic programs.
Heading for the mainland again, Rev. Weir became the pastor of First St. Paul’s, United Church of Christ in Los Angeles near UCLA for seven years. During his time serving a German/English-speaking congregation, from 1972 to 1978, he stepped up to the challenge of learning German.
After the passing of his wife of 30 years, Wilamina, Rev. Weir became a Manorite, moving into the Claremont Manor in 1996. He is remembered as a man with great intelligence and an amazing gift of memory.
Wendell immediately settled into the Manor by doing what he knew best, giving of his time to others. He became involved in many of the various activities on the campus right away. He was coordinator of the mealtime grace; assisted with the Vespers; was a member of the Hymn Book Committee, participating in the creation of the “Joy in Singing” hymnal; was a leader of the Spiritual Life Committee; and was a longtime chairman of the Men’s Breakfast, providing speakers for the monthly meeting/breakfast.
Rev. Weir was also concert coordinator and manager for five years; helped organize the Manor’s California History lecture series; chaired the Association Nominating Committee; served as coordinator for the Employee Christmas Appreciation Party; helped found the “Live and Learn” group; and was on the Auxiliary Committee for the Care Center.
Rev. Weir filmed most of the entertainment programs on campus over the years. He then critiqued and summarized the programs for the Manor Items newspaper. Often recruited for his pastoral skills, Wendell could play the piano, lead in prayer or preach. At a UCC Conference, a minister, upon visiting a Sunday morning service, said, “He was a triple-threat man—play, pray and preach.”
Rev. Weir was a longtime member of the Claremont United Church of Christ and, for 50 years, helped the Church of Women United with missionary support. Other memberships and contributions over his lifetime were: convener, South Los Angeles Cluster of Los Angles Association of Churches and Ministers; moderator and member of the Camino Real Association—the judiciary just above the local church; and member of the Southern California Conference UCC Conference of Churches.
He additionally served as denominational representative and later vice president to the board of directors for the United Ministry in Higher Education on the USC campus and as a member of the Ethnic Ministers’ Fellowship of the SC Conference at USC, formed in 1976. The tireless Rev. Weir was also registered with the Boy Scouts, and enjoyed offering his pastoral assistance at summer camp for the Scouts, and was and was vice chairman of the District Advancement Committee of the San Gabriel Valley Council. In 1976, the DMV licensed him as a Backseat Driver authorized to give guidance and advice to the DMV of Los Angeles.
Wendell’s hobbies included collecting coins and stamps and he was fascinated by railroad history, relishing his membership with the Pacific Railroad Society. He never met a book he didn’t like and keep. He was a historian on many subjects and enjoyed studying different languages, including perfecting his fluency in German and Spanish. He enjoyed telling new acquaintances the origins and meanings of their names. He loved classical music and played the organ, piano, cornet, trumpet and alto horn (mellophone). He collected records, movies and the old radio programs and treasured his collections. There was not too much Wendell didn’t know something about, although his friends and family enjoyed trying to stump him.
Wendell is survived by his cousin Marta Kane, her husband Kevin Kane, their daughter Lora Treadwell-Kane and granddaughter Lena Kane from Santa Monica.
A funeral for Rev. Weir was held on October 8 at the Cortner Chapel in Redlands. He was buried alongside his family at Hillside Memorial Park, also in Redlands. A “Time of Remembrance” will be held for Wendell Weir on Tuesday, October 28 at 10 a.m. in the Manor Hall at the Claremont Manor.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Boy Scouts of America, the Inland Empire Council.