Archive for Saturday, August 30, 2008

Weatherwax remembered as great friend, musician

August 30, 2008


John Thomas Weatherwax

John Thomas Weatherwax

With a genuine smile and zest for life, John T. Weatherwax made people from "all walks of life" feel comfortable, his family and friends said.

Whether people met him while he was serving as city commissioner or mayor in the 1950s and '60s, as an accountant or when he was singing or playing his trombone in the Lawrence City Band at South Park or with his Junk Yard Jazz band at the American Legion, it was evident he was a special person.

"I think everybody that met John came away with a great impression that he's a man that cared about a lot of people," said Marty Pattin, 65, Weatherwax's son-in-law.

Weatherwax died Friday at Pioneer Ridge Retirement Community, leaving behind numerous family members and friends he touched in his 87 years.

"When he met you he just wanted to know you, and once he made a friend with you ... he just made you feel like you were as important as anyone he met on this earth," said friend Dobie Morris, 51.

Weatherwax never missed a beat, was always "on the go" and lived life to the fullest. Herbie Weidensaul, 80, a former co-worker, longtime friend and golf partner, said, "He was just a John Weatherwax."

"He just absolutely loved life. ... He just did everything with such a passion," Weidensaul said.

Morris noted Weatherwax's passion for jazz; he "really came to life" through his music, she said.

Pattin and wife, Joy, Weatherwax's daughter, never missed a Thursday night at the Legion after Weatherwax made a jazz fan out of him, Pattin said.

"That's my Thursday night medicine."

Foster's fellow musician and friend Clyde Bysom, 90, with whom he played in both the City Band and Junk Yard Jazz, said Weatherwax had a "wonderful stage presence and voice."

They would travel together to play with the Kansas University Alumni Band. Weatherwax was an original officer of that band.

The times were rare he wasn't playing his trombone, but Robert Foster, conductor of the Lawrence City Band, professor of music at KU and assistant chairman of the music and dance department, said Weatherwax was "so much more important to this community than just a musician and person in the entertainment business."

"He was a great friend to KU, one of the most loyal alum you could have," he said.

Reliability was also a great asset of Weatherwax, Foster said.

"When there were things that needed to be done, you could count on John to get it done. Period," he said. "When it came to volunteering, John was always willing to give of his time, a really gracious, wonderful man."

Bysom said that as a public servant, Weatherwax was "a great mayor" and he "served the city well."

"He is sorely missed," Bysom said.

Weatherwax was part of numerous organizations and musical outlets, but his family was his real treasure.

Morris said when Joy and his son Scott both relocated to Lawrence from California, Weatherwax couldn't stop talking about them. They would join son David and his wife, Elizabeth June Griesa, in Lawrence.

Morris said he told her, "I've got it all around here now. Lawrence is really home."

"He was just a great dad and a great contributor to the Lawrence society all around," said Scott, president of Free State Doors.

Weidensaul won't forget one expression Weatherwax always told him.

"He'd say, 'Herbie, I lay my head down on my pillow every night and I look up and say, 'No regrets.'"


Boston_Corbett 9 years, 6 months ago

The kind of civic leader that we should all be thankful for.

gkwhdw 9 years, 6 months ago

I went to school when I was young with Scott and I knew of Joy. We weren't real close friends but sometimes I'd walk home with Scott and play out in the stables at his house and eat the pears on the pear tree. I only lived a block away on Missouri street from their house and I remember how gracious and beautiful their Mom was when I'd go to the front door to visit. John was always a very nice man who I looked up to as a kid. I was just little but I knew he was an impressionable and great man. Mycondolences go out to his family.

KRITIKOS 9 years, 6 months ago

John was what Lawrence used to be.What an honor it was to know him.I can never remember him talking about himself.Everytime I would see him he would ask about my mother and father, my sister, myself ,even uncles and cousins. To see his smile and hear....WHAT A DEAL... gave a young buissnessman courage like you could not belive.I would say he never lived a life of cash but one of accrual, accruing many friends.If you had two flat tires with no spare Waxie would give you one of his tires and his spare without even thinking twice.His intellect was impeciable only a true genious could understand the workings of Viking Invesment, something Radcliff tried for years to achive!!! To the family, it was a real honor to know your husband and father you are a reflection of what he stood for. My father Stan would say....son, he is the example that sets examples.God bless you to Frankie my thoughts and prayers go out to you aswell.The band does play on......I can see it clear as a bell....John T. a wailing and Skipper playin that ol banjo!!!!!!

Chuck Wehner 9 years, 6 months ago

I have fond memories of John from the time I worked with him at Viking Investment. I was there cub Architect.

cweathe2 9 years, 6 months ago

I would like to thank everybody who has shared such great memories and condolences with my family. We find peace in knowing that John, my grandfather, is in a beautiful place and that he is watching over us all. He was the person who I looked to for guidance and was a great model for the type of person who I strive to be. He cared deeply for Lawrence and its citizens and we, his family, appreciate your support and compassion during this time. Grandpa would have wanted us to remember him, the fulfilled and amazing life which he led and to rejoice over the good memories that we shared with him. Thank you again for your support. -Cassie Weatherwax

StirrrThePot 9 years, 6 months ago

This makes me sad. I remember John Weatherwax from my involvement in the KU Alumni Band and various Town Band events. I was just reading about the Junkyard Jazz in the fall Lawrence magazine a week or so ago too and it made me smile. My condolences to his family, friends, and all those who knew and loved him.

Janis Pool 9 years, 6 months ago

The tight knit Weatherwax family is hurting. And I send you my heart felt condolonces. Thank you for your husband and father, and how he has touched all of our lives. Let the band play on!

Franker 9 years, 6 months ago

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Tyson Travis 9 years, 6 months ago

I also worked for John at Viking Investment from 1967-69, he was a wonderful person, a war hero [had a Silver Star in WWII], a great friend, community leader, and wonderful jazz player and fan. He and June were also great friends to my Mom and late father thru Junkyard Jazz. We'll miss you John, it was a pleasure. Ty Travis, Pine Bluff, Ark.

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