Happy Birthday, Dear George!

Ssssshhh! This post is a surprise!

Tomorrow (Thursday, March 13), George Weigle turns 86. The longtime, much-loved Staples High School choral director still lives in Westport.

Dr. George Weigle

Dr. George Weigle

During his 3 decades of teaching — mixing passion and love with extremely high standards — Dr. Weigle changed countless lives, in countless ways.

Every year, alert “06880” reader Barbara Sherburne calls her mentor on his birthday. He’s always thrilled, and surprised she remembers.

This year, she suggests that many other Weigle-lovers do the same. His phone number is 203-259-9976.

“Keep it short,” she says of the conversations. “Don’t wear him out. Just say hello, a little chitchat.”

If you’ve got the guts, you might actually sing a few bars from an old favorite. “Ride the  Chariot.” “Sing We Noel.”

Or maybe “Happy Birthday To You.”

39 responses to “Happy Birthday, Dear George!

  1. Scott E. Brodie

    Could we send him an email instead — perhaps less intrusive than a zillion phone calls?

  2. I agree. Having the phone ringing all day long might be kind of annoying though the intention is loving and wonderful. I wish I had known earlier I would’ve sent him a card!!


    He was ok, right?


  4. Lucinda Mirk Setnicka

    Does anyone have his snail mail address? We could send belated birthday greetings and that would give us an opportunity to write a note of thanks for all he brought to our lives – I continue to sing to this day (Santa Barbara Choral Society – we have a big Morten Lauridsen concert coming up), thanks in large part to his inspirational song selection, faith in all of us that we could do ambitious pieces (think: “A Jubilant Song!”), and high musical standards. Thanks, Mr. Weigle!!!!

  5. Barbara Sherburne '67

    He does not have an email address. His daughters, Robin Weigle Magda, Kimberly Weigle, and Kristen Weigle Witt, are all on Facebook, and you could send a message to them if you wish. Thanks for posting this, Dan. Great photo.

  6. Rev. Ed Horne

    Thanks for the lovely thoughts about George and I’d agree that written greetings would be very welcome. George was also the long-time and much-loved choral director at the United Methodist Church and his family is still active here. He cherishes the years he spent at Staples and loves to hear from former students.

  7. Michael Beecher

    I wonder if he recalls the mischief I got into during the 1972 Orphenians trip to Graz, Austria? I think this would be a good time to make amends…

  8. Barbara Sherburne '67

    Hi, Rev. Horne. I was at one time a member of your church and sang under George’s direction for quite a while. I was also part of the United Methodist Players. Great times.

  9. Barbara Sherburne '67

    I heard back from Kristen Weigle Witt. I had asked her if she thought the phone calls would be too much. She said, “I am sure he would love to hear from people. Thanks.”

  10. George Weigle was the best thing about my high school years. He saved me from myself!

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

      Me too!!! Choral music was my escape back then. GW was the best!!!

  11. My Staples experience would have been completely different – and I’m sure, much less joyous and fulfilling – without Choir, Orphenians and George Weigle. The man is a legend. Thanks for letting us know, Dan! I will be in touch with him.

  12. Beth Eyerly van Dijk

    Happy Birthday Mr. Weigle!!!!!!! I graduated from Staples in 68. Mr. Weigle was always a positive and wonderful inspiration. I spent many happy hours under his direction with the glee club, Choir and Orphenians. Thank you for your gift to all of those that were lucky enough to have had you part of their lives.

  13. Pamela Stavenger

    Happy Birthday Mr. Weigle!! I graduated in 1971 and participated in Choir, Orphenians and Glee Club in various combinations all three years at Staples. Thank-you for having such an incredibly positive long lasting impact on my love for music, the Staples experience and the joy of singing!!

  14. Wanda Tedesco

    Happy Birthday Dr. Weigle. I was at Bedford Junior High School with you and still recall the day you told us you were following our class to Staples. I graduated in 1962. You were such an inspiration to all of us! Thank you for giving so much of yourself to us. Best Wishes, Wanda Gupton Tedesco

  15. Linda Franco Doyle

    Hi Dr. Weigle! I want to wish you a wonderful Birthday!!! I can’t tell you how LUCKY I feel that I was a part of your Choir and Orphenians, and that you made it possible for me to sing my heart out in Graz, Austria!! Amazing memories that I will always have. You have always been such an inspiration!
    Happy-Happy Birthday and all the best wishes!!! Linda Franco Doyle

  16. I won’t call tomorrow, I’ll wait a couple of days and I’ll get a belated card off. George was a task master and an inspiration as a teacher and as a colleague. One of my all time highlights at Staples was our collaboration on “The Wizard of Oz”. Under his direction, a three piece pit sounded like a full orhcestra and all of the voices were mighty fine.

  17. Karen Bernstein

    I called tonight because I have meetings all day tomorrow. We spoke for just a few minutes – didn’t want to take too much time, but it was lovely.

  18. Kim Plaut Sullivan

    ♪ღ♪░H░A░P░P░Y░ B░I░R░T░H░D░A░Y░░♪ღ♪
    Dr Weigle, you’re in my heart forever. Congratulations!
    Kim Plaut Sullivan, ’71

  19. Josh Libresco

    Thanks, Dan, for letting us know about this. My sister — Staples ’76 — passed it along. I am thrilled to hear that George W. is alive and well, and will send him a note. I also enjoyed seeing comments from some others who were on the Graz trip, which I remember with great fondness. Of course, I am now wondering what Mike Beecher did that i obviously missed. Best to all of you.

    Josh Libresco, Staples ’72

    • Michael Beecher

      Josh, I’m glad your memory of the Graz trip is not perfect. I won’t recount what happened – everybody was witness to it – but let’s just say I was young and foolish and, 42 years later, still a bit regretful.

  20. Bonnie Housner Erickson

    Mr. Weigle,

    Happiest of birthday wishes I send your way. In 1971, at a crossroads in my life, there were three people who were instrumental in keeping me on the path of performing arts…Brian Keane, because of his dedication to his craft; Al Pia, because he kicked my ass; and you, because you were a constant source of support who reminded me that I could be better than I thought I could be.

    Thank you for giving me the courage to pursue my passion. I am living my dream to this day.

    Happy birthday!

    Bonnie Housner Erickson, Class of ’71

  21. Dear Mr. Weigle,
    A heartfelt happy birthday to you. I’m still singing opera in Germany, and will always be grateful for the excellent vocal and personal standards that you set for us at Staples.
    My very best to you today,
    Jeff Dowd, 71

  22. Dale Eyerly Colson

    Happy, happy birthday Dr. Weigle. You touched my life in such a meaningful way, just as you did for my sister and my daughter. None of us will ever forget you!

  23. Maureen Violano

    Dear Dr. Weigle, I wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday and let you know how greatful I am to you for making Choir the highlight of my high school years. The thought of the “Sing We Noel” procession still sends chills down my spine, a memory I shall never forget. So many great memories.

    Maureen Gupton Violano – Class of 1972

  24. Nancy Staby Boardman

    Mr Weigle….Of all the teachers at Staples I think of you most often. You encouraged singing for me and have continued to hum along all the time. Happy Birthday! Nancy Staby Boardman

  25. Deborah Hoult

    Could someone collate our e-greetings and mail them to Mr Weigle? Happy Birthday Mr Weigle: very fond and grateful wishes from the UK. I am still singing and reflect often on how fortunate I was to have such an inspiring musical upbringing in Westport, especially from you. Carmina Burana was historic! Am I the only one with a ‘Graz blazer’ hidden away somewhere? Weren’t we all so lucky to grow up with the strong arts tradition in Westport! Thank you again, Mr Weigle. Debbie Wilson Hoult, ’73.

    • Barbara Sherburne '67

      Hi, Deb. I was planning on collating all of the e-greetings and sending them to Mr. Weigle. Also the comments on the Facebook Staples High School Orphenians page.

  26. Dr. Weigle, if you only knew the impact you and your Westport music department colleagues have had on my life and the lives of my children. In my marketing profession, I have had the good fortune to work with the NARAS Foundation and its Grammy in the Schools program, Wynton Marsalis and Jazz@Lincoln Center and MENC: the National Association for Music Educators. I have always held you in my thoughts during each of these consults. This summer, my oldest son will be touring with Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra as the Orchestra Manager Apprentice. None of these and so many other music education events would have happened in my life if it were not for your inspiration. Happy Birthday! And, thank you for being a man of mission and integrity.
    John Davidoff ’78
    Chicago IL

  27. Douglass Davidoff

    Just spoke to George Weigle on the phone. He sounds hearty, and he seems to be loving these phone calls. So, call! Don’t be bashful! Be ready with a short list of pieces for which you have the best memories. You won’t get away with just one favorite, especially if it’s “Sing We Noel!” He wants to remember and discuss the whole repertoire, and he wants to know a bit about what you’re up to in your life: career, family. I’m very glad I called him on his birthday! I told him how loved he is, and how much I value the work he did at Staples, and how much I appreciate the work all his colleagues did in Westport Public Schools to design and execute a music program that educated me from kindergarten to graduation, from 1962 to 1975. Go ahead, make the call to George Weigle!

  28. Abby Peterson

    The Peterson Family are so blessed to continue a deep and loving relationship with Dr. Weigle. We now are charged to give back to his family when needed. Luckily we are in town and on Kim’s phone list! We love you George! Brad, Abby, Katie, Sarah and Scotty!

  29. Denise Von Dassel

    Wow he was our neighbor growing up in the early years and the girls were about the same ages as my sisters and I. I hadn’t thought of he or the family in probably decades so it’s wonderful to hear such heartfelt stories and good wishes to him. I intend to send him a note. Thanks 06880!

  30. Barbara Sherburne '67

    I printed off all the comments here and Dan’s story and also postings on Staples High School Alumni and Staples High School Orphenians and mailed them to George on Friday. I know he will love reading all the postings. 🙂 On George’s behalf (he has no computer), I say thank you for all the wonderful things you wrote. He is quite an amazing man.