Remembering Ron Weir

Generations of Westporters knew Ron Weir. For decades he was a big, gruff-looking — but gentle, soft-hearted — physical education teacher at Coleytown Junior High and Middle Schools.

Ron died on Monday. Word came in a brief email from a fellow Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club member. For the past couple of years, he lived very quietly in a nursing home.

Ron coached football and other sports when the 3 Westport junior highs had interscholastic teams. He was tough and hard, and his teams were good. He loved his players, and would do anything for them.

Ron Weir (standing, top left) and the 1972 Coleytown Junior High School football team.

Ron Weir (standing, top left) and the 1972 Coleytown Junior High School football team.

But as a teacher, he was the opposite. He took equal interest in the scrawny, shy little boys — and, after gym classes became coed, the girls he had never before known or had to teach. He tried to give every kid confidence, and wanted every child to love phys ed.

Ron may be best known for his wrestling tournament. Every year at Christmas — right around this time — he organized a school-wide event. It was asking a lot of 12- and 13-year-olds to go out on the mat, with all their friends and teachers watching. But for many — win or lose — it was an experience they’ll never forget.

Every year, I refereed that tournament. And every year — right after the final match — Ron and his wife Val thanked me, by taking me out to lunch.

At Le Chambord.

That was an elegant French restaurant in Westport. Other diners might have thought us an incongruous trio: me, gym teacher Ron, and his wife Val — also a PE instructor, but as petite and demure as Ron was big and brash.

Ron Weir, in the early 1970s. (Courtesy Laura Bloom)

Ron Weir, in the early 1970s. (Courtesy Laura Bloom)

That was a side of Ron Weir that few people saw. He was a talented cook, and a wine connoisseur. He grew up in a blue collar New Jersey town, and thought he’d be a bricklayer until the University of Bridgeport opened his eyes to the possibility of teaching.

He also loved animals. Val turned their Redding home into a menagerie, and Ron happily helped out.

He loved his boat too. He was a frequent presence at his club, telling stories and cooking. One summer evening, I met him there. He took me out on the Sound, then up the Saugatuck River. We docked at the Mooring restaurant, and had a memorable meal. (He ordered really, really good wine.)

Ron spent his last years in relative obscurity. A couple of former football players and boat club members were regular visitors, but no one else. Val died a number of years ago.

There has been no obituary. According to the email sent by his boat club, he is survived by one sister. And, it says, “per Ron’s wishes there will be no formal funeral arrangements.”

36 responses to “Remembering Ron Weir

  1. Coach Ron will be missed. I was Colt class of ’71 and played football under him. Yes, he was tough. I still remember doing “Suicides” and “Up downs” until I thought I’d throw up. But he got us in shape for those tough opponents at Long Lots and Bedford (jr highs then) Your description of him Dan is right on point. A big guy. I remember when he bought a used, Jaguar xke convertible. He could be seen leaving the parking lot with most of his head peeking over the windshield, his perfectly coiffed, Vitalis laden hair, barely moving in the wind. He was co-coach with Coach Manere. I had the pleasure of playing golf with Coach M. about a year ago with [Dr.] Mike Lynch. He may not have wanted a ceremony but thank you for remembering him Dan. I invite my fellow teammates to comment.

    • Coach Weir used to give us lots of dubious personal advice, particularly in “Health” class, which was a combination of First Aid and a baby-steps, preliminary approach to Sex Ed. He once warned us never to drink alcohol with a girl — other than “a couple of beers” — because this might “lessen her inhibitions and get you in trouble.” (Remember, we were in 7th or 8th grade!)

      Once he started out a class with: “Listen boys, I want to tell you something REALLY important…” and everyone snickered because we thought this was going to be about sex.

      But he went on: “you got to promise me, you’ll never, EVER buy a Jaguar.” At which point, he launched into a tirade about his disc brakes locking up on the highway for the 2nd or maybe the 3rd time. He seemed to be barely 30 at the time, maybe even late 20s, but of course that was probably 1968 or 1969, meaning he was probably mid 70’s when he died…but still way too young…and this news makes me feel way too old!

  2. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Coleytown gymnastic club is how I remember both Mr. And Mrs. Weir. Seven weeks of hard work and training coached by a tremendous husband and wife team. A great experience.

    • It was a blast, Nancy. He had a collection of films from every year of the gymnastic club.

      • Nancy Hunter Wilson

        Hi Bobby! In fact, I have the film (probably a “trial” copy) from our year (don’t know why, since I was the worst person on the team!), which I had transferred to VHS(!) years ago. It’s more snippets from the show. Would you like it? You were a co-captain with Kevin, after all!

  3. I did not know him but you did a great job describing this obviously wonderful man!

  4. God bless Coach Weir. I so loved Miss Broderick as our P.E. teacher and cheer leading coach at Colleytown. I was happy for her when I heard she had married Coach Weir. I had no idea she passed away years ago. Sad we have lost them both. Forever in our hearts.

  5. I played for him at Coleytown and remember him as Dan described. A good man who always had something positive to say to the kids regardless of skill. I recall him in class encouraging one and all thru the various exercises and games. Nicely done Dan and thank you

  6. It’s been year’s since middle school, but he is one man that sticks out in my mind. He was a good man

  7. Coach Weir was a nice guy. Rest in peace Coach.

  8. Martha Kirchhof

    Fond memories of Coleytown Junior High and the PE staff. They made a country girl from upstate New York settle into affluent Westport. They both peaked my interests in Athletics which I carried on through college. I now am almost a retired Physical Educator. thanks!

  9. I remember being at Ron and Val’s home for dinner. In (almost) every room there was a different style fireplace custom built by Ron, who used to be a brick-layer–way back when. The dinner was a culinary delight. He was a big guy with a soft heart.

  10. Alex Tokatlian

    Excellent write-up Dan.

    Saddened to hear of this loss. Mr Weir was a phenomenal teacher. Some of my fondest memories of the Holiday Wrestling tournament. I would eventually become a State Champion wrestler at Staples, and it was Ron that instilled my love of the sport that led to future success. Same with Football. May he rest in peace.

  11. Dr Robert J Holliday

    Danny thanks to one of my favorite charges Andre lambros I received this very sad news today. Once again, well done by you. You are truly the lifetime mayor of Westport a town that touches my heart so positively and warmly. Ron was a part of my life for thirty four years and we along with bobby manere were a real interesting triad. I’m laughing at the great memories and stories because Ron would expect that at this time . There are so many thoughts spinning through my head at present. But, most specifically was that he cared deeply about others , was extremely detailed, could have coached football and baseball at any level and was a member of our salmon swimming upstream club against the administrative system that dared cut programs that were paramount to each child at coleytown junior high school. Both of us had our own chairs in various superintendents offices for the right reasons. Rather than ramble on Ron. Peace was secured at Val’s passing and the big whistle now has his engraved locker with our lord Jesus Chirist. God bless you coach Ron. I’ll see you when I reach 100. Go colts forever xo. Coach H

    • THANKS, Bob — those were indeed the days. Thanks for all you — and the many other phys ed teachers and coaches who care so deeply — have done for so many. What a great legacy that Ron and you have impacted so many young people, at a time when they really need it.

  12. I believe he had children with his first wife??

    Sent from my iPad


  13. He was such a good guy! Here are a few photos from my old Coleytown Yearbooks. I remember him and Coach Broderick from when I was on the Gymnastics team. I’m also including a link to the team, but it was a year I wasn’t on it….but lots of my friends were! Feel free to download and share any of these.
    Coach Weir Portrait 1970-1974 yearbooks:
    Coach Weir Seated 1972 yearbook:
    Coach Broderick 1970-71 yearbook:
    The Gymnastics Team (not sure of year, I “borrowed” this from Bob Lyon. 😉

  14. Unlike a lot of Phys Ed teachers of that era, Coach Weir always had a soft spot in his heart for the not-so-athletic, skinny, slightly-nerdy kids like myself. What mattered to him was that you gave the effort and tried to improve. There frankly are not that many teachers I had in junior high who were memorable over 40 years later, but he definitely stood out as a true mensch.

  15. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    So sorry to hear that another great one has passed. But your eulogy brings back memories of the great coaches we had in junior high. Messrs. Manere, Weir, Hall, Sellers, Melillo and many more. Back then we would never in a million years have thought they were mortal. And how much I envy you and others on this thread who were able to maintain your friendship long after we graduated.

  16. We have all been fortunate to have been taught by very young men and women, so that we ourselves are looking forty to fifty years back as we remember their lives.

    My story goes back to perhaps 1968. Coach Manere had a heart issue and Coach Weir took over the baseball coaching responsibility for the Colts. Ron favored his football players in the tryouts. He let us runty or skinny kids play a practice game against his intended team. We beat them, but I don’t think anyone got a promotion.

    Like Peter Blau, I specifically recall the comical vagueness of Ron’s health teaching. Suffice it to say that there truly was no sex education. (I wouldn’t have minded getting some, since I couldn’t understand Tim Hunter’s jokes.)

    I can smell that sweaty-sock locker room as I recall these events.

    So Ron, rest in peace, and thank you. Thanks to Dan as well.

  17. Andrea Wallis Aven

    Great guy, Coach Weir. Both he and Miss Broderick, later Mrs. Weir, made gym classes a pretty fun learning experience for this notsoinclined PE student. I’m grateful to him for his example and kindness. I had no idea Mrs. Weir already passed. She too was a good soul who was encouraging and patient. I bet they are dancing together now!

  18. George Llorens

    Sad to read this news. Coach Weir organized an incredible flat football league for the 8th graders back in 1984 at Coleytown. It was unique in that all the kids picked their own teams and battled for school bragging rights. Many went onto to play high school football at Staples but still to this day the memories we have and still speak about fondly were on those back muddy football fields at Coleytown Middle School. RIP Coach and thanks for many great childhood memories.

  19. Coach Weir had this great line whenever a kid got hurt while we were in gym class. He would say “Good thing your’e tough” and suddenly you felt better. I coach youth lacrosse and use that line a few times every season. He was a good man, RIP.

  20. I’m sorry to learn of this news. With one or two exceptions, there was no bigger influence on my Coleytown Junior High experience than Ron Weir. He recruited me to be the manager of the football team when I was in 7th grade. I cut so many damn oranges that fall! I played football for him two years, and some how he even managed to talk me into doing the gymnastics exhibition, even though I was about as graceful as a three-legged rhinoceros. Ron had an impact on so many of our lives. That will be his legacy.

  21. Lynda Simonton

    Thank you so much for sharing this Dan. I have many fond memories of both the Weirs and remember them both vividly.

  22. RIP Coach Weir. As a former Colt, I think of you often, which always produces a smile.

  23. Alexis Goldberg Dorfman

    The morning after the Challenger exploded-we had all been home bc it was a snow day-we were discussing it in homeroom. Coach Weir was my homeroom teacher. He surprised me by saying to the class that he thought of me when he saw it happen bc he thought I would have been brave enough to go up in space as a civilian. I’ve never forgotten that-I hope I live as bravely as he thought I could. Thank you for the memories Coach. RIP

  24. maryann hurtuk classey

    such a loss-a great friend(as was Val) w/a HUGE heart & I taught w/them both for many years & had many great times in school & out. could always count on Ron to disrupt EVERY faculty meeting & Val would just look the other way as the rest of us would groan ’cause we knew what was coming! great job Dan & I share ur sadness that our “teddy bear” has moved on to be w/the love of his life

  25. RIP Coach Ron Weir! You had a very positive impact on my development and I have applied the lessons you taught more than you ever knew. I have said hundreds of times to kids I’ve coached and business associates that I’ve managed: “Good thing you’re tough!” Thanks! RIP!

  26. Sad to hear of Coach Weir’s passing. I agree with many comments here. I think we under appreciated this man in real time. He introduced blocking schemes and defenses to us that were a complex as anything I ran into in high school or college. Of course I often tell of the suicide drills with tackling dummies that frankly horrify my orthopedic colleagues, but we were well coached. And who can forget when he promised and then followed thru with treating the whole team to Carroll’s after win over cross town rival(Bedford or Long Lots, I forget). And of course who can forget the white belt , white shoe look he sported. Team picture happens to be my ninth grade team, many nice memories. As coach Holliday commented, they formed quite a triumvirate.

  27. Coach weir was a wonderful man that made all kids feel special, may he rest in peace with his wife Val. <3
    Linda and Sierra & family

  28. I remember his memorable roll calls at the beginning of every PE class. As a point of emphasis, he would talk with his hands when making an important point. My friends and I would lovingly do our Coach Weir imitations for year to come.

  29. I was sad to hear of Ron’s passing. I played two years for Coach Weir. He molded our team into winners. We were underdogs all year yet we were the best team in town. Good stuff!

    I will always remember his favorite slogan: “good thing your are tough”.