William John Weiss, 97, toolmaker, teacher, golfer

January 02, 2000|By Heather Dewar | Heather Dewar,SUN STAFF

William John Weiss, who founded the first seniors golf club in the Baltimore area and shot a hole in one at the age of 83, died Wednesday at Glen Meadows Retirement Community of complications from an infection. He was 97.

Mr. Weiss was a toolmaker and teacher for 40 years. He helped build military equipment during World War II and later designed machines that picked crabs and shucked oysters. In the 1960s, he taught the machinist's trade to returning veterans, ex-convicts and other adult students at Baltimore City School No. 420 on Loch Raven Road, said his son, Thomas Weiss.

His late-life passion for golf began in 1970 when he retired. He shot his last round of golf at age 95. In the intervening years, he shot three holes in one and proudly displayed the trophies for each.

Mr. Weiss was born in his parents' rowhouse at South Wolfe and Aliceanna streets in May 1902. He graduated from Polytechnic Institute in 1919 and worked for several local companies as a machinist and tool salesman. In 1933, he married Blodwen Thomas, whom he met while both were taking classes at the Johns Hopkins University.

On their honeymoon, Mr. Weiss took his bride to a hockey game at Madison Square Garden.

During World War II, Mr. Weiss worked as a machinist at American Hammer and Piston Ring, which manufactured parts for military equipment. In the 1950s, he helped design canning and seafood preparation equipment for A. K. Robins Co., Fallsway at Baltimore Street.

"He just loved making things with his hands," Thomas Weiss said. "He taught his sons how to make things on the lathe and the drill press."

In the family home in Ednor Gardens, Mr. Weiss used a saw, a drill and the two sides of a doorway to record his two sons' growth: On each birthday, the boys' heights were notched with a saw on the door frame -- one side per son -- and the date was carved with a drill. When the house was sold after his wife's death in 1973, he excluded that door frame from the sales contract, took it apart and gave each son the jamb bearing his name and birthday measurements.

In 1976, Mr. Weiss married Mary King Doyle in a small ceremony at the 180-year-old Seventh Baptist Church on North Avenue. His son Thomas was the best man. The couple lived in Towson until moving to Glen Meadows in 1996.

Mr. Weiss was a fixture on the local senior golf circuit. In the early 1970s, he founded a seniors' golf club at Longview Golf Course in Baltimore County, the first group of its kind here. There are now seven such clubs in the area.

His last hole in one was at Longview's second hole Aug. 25, 1985.

A funeral service will be held at 12: 30 p.m. tomorrow at Alterburg Funeral Home, 6009 Harford Road.

In addition to his wife and his son, a Salisbury resident, Mr. Weiss is survived by his eldest son, William John Sparks of Pasadena, Calif., and a sister, Elizabeth Condin Woodyard of Mesa, Ariz.

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