By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director
Services for Leigh Weimers, ’58 Journalism, will be held 3:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at St. Joseph Cathedral Basilica in downtown San Jose.
“For four decades, his daily column captured the comings and goings of the valley and laid the foundation for a cultural renaissance in San Jose that took place as the region left behind fruit orchards for its silicon future,” wrote his successor Sal Pizarro, also an alumnus.
The former Spartan Daily reporter and editor who went on to a 47-year career with the Mercury News died Aug. 30 at 76, just a few days after blogging that he was about to undergo heart surgery.
San Jose State extends condolences to Weimers friends and family, including his wife Geri, ’63 Business. The Weimers were lifelong supporters of SJSU, which Leigh positioned in his columns as one of many institutions integral to the region’s transformation into an international powerhouse.
“I’m convinced that when historians come to write about what has happened here over the past four decades, they’ll compare Silicon Valley to Florence at the start of the Renaissance,” he wrote in his final column for the Mercury News.
“After all, what took place in Italy back then was the development of new ways of looking at art, music, commerce, the world. And the technological developments here during the past 40 years have been no less global.”
“One of the Best Times of My Life”
Weimers attended thousands of events while serving as the Mercury News man about town, but he described the Tower Award dinner gala in 2003, when he was the guest of honor, as “one of the best times of my life.” The award is SJSU’s highest honor for service.
“Ever generous in the cause of SJSU, Leigh regularly highlights in his column the accomplishments of university faculty and staff. He helps keep us in the news as a metropolitan institution and as an educational force in the Bay Area,” President Robert L. Caret said at the event.
Caret also traced Weimer’s accomplishments: He started his professional career in journalism as a high school student, working for his hometown newspaper, the Napa Journal. While still a student at Napa Community College, he became the youngest sports editor of a daily in the state.
As a junior transfer to San Jose State’s journalism program, Weimers joined the staff of the Spartan Daily and in his column, “The Circular File,” further refined the incisive, witty style for which he is known.
Fresh out of college, Weimers was hired by the Mercury News, his one and only employer (save a two-year stint in the Army). He has also served on the SJSU Alumni Association Board of Directors and on the university’s publications editorial board, helping to transform our alumni magazine, Washington Square, into the publication it is today.
The Leigh Weimers Journalism Scholarship Fund
But it was the Tower Award master of ceremonies, Steve Snell, ’62 Business, who really made the case for Weimers, and for journalism.
“Just think, when Leigh started writing for the Mercury News, San Jose’s population was about 100,000 people,” Snell said. “It’s now almost a million, and through it all he’s been our greatest booster and supporter.
“He is in many ways responsible for giving us a positive image of ourselves. His column has promoted what’s good about San Jose. And sometimes when he’s pointed out what could be improved, he’s always done it in a positive way.
“He has helped innumerable civic and arts organizations through his mentions and stories. A mention in Leigh’s column can be the difference between a successful event and one not so successful. And Leigh and his paper have been major supporters of San Jose State University and the Alumni Association.”
The Leigh Weimers Journalism Scholarship Fund, established about 10 years ago, continues to support journalism students. Please consider giving. You can do so online (http://www.sjsu.edu/giving/, click “give now,” and then click Leigh Weimers Journalism Scholarship Fund).
Or please send checks to the Tower Foundation of San Jose State University, One Washington Square, San Jose, CA, 95192-0183. In the memo section of the check, please write “Leigh Weimers Journalism Scholarship Fund.”