Walter Jacob Weber Jr., 84, died Oct. 18 at Huron Woods Memory Center, with family at his side, after a brief illness. He was professor emeritus and the Gordon M. Fair and Earnest Boyce Distinguished University Professor of Environmental and Ecological Sciences and Engineering.
He was born June 16, 1934, in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, to Anna Marie Chando and Walter Jacob Weber Sr. Weber and his younger brother were raised by their aunt Helen Jean Chando and uncle Edward A. Fritz due to the loss of their parents at a young age. After spending most of his boyhood in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, he graduated in 1952 from South River High School, where he lettered in football.
In 1956, Weber obtained a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Brown University, where he lettered in track and field. The same year, he married Ruth Lillian Stryker and they began their family.
He continued to further his professional career, earning a master’s degree in civil engineering from Rutgers University in 1959, and a Doctor of Philosophy in water resources engineering from Harvard University in 1962. In 1963, he joined the faculty at the University of Michigan as a professor in the Departments of Civil and Chemical Engineering.
Weber devoted his life to protecting the global water supply and is internationally renowned for his seminal work in technologies and concepts for sustainable water supplies. He received numerous awards and honors during his tenure at U-M. He was named a diplomat in the American Academy of Environmental Engineers in 1975, elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 1985, and was named the Gordon M. Fair and Earnest Boyce Distinguished University Professor of Environmental and Ecological Sciences and Engineering at U-M in 1994.
The International Science Index recognized Weber as the 15th most highly cited and quoted scientist in the World, seventh in the United States. He mentored thousands of engineering students and graduated more than 75 Ph.D. students. He remains a world-class leader in the field of environmental engineering, water resources, and is most revered for his work in water purification and sustainability.
He was a devoted Michigan football fan who served on the U-M Athletic Advisory Board and spent many Saturdays at the Big House with his family. Weber loved animals, including his wolves (Knute, Shadow, and Luke), traveling, mentoring others, and has fond memories of taking his family to the Jersey Shore.
In his free time he cherished working in the yard and on his home of over 40 years, “The Ford Lake” house, Ypsilanti, Michigan. In 2003, he met Iva Kaye Corbett, his beloved for over 15 years. Weber and Iva shared a beautiful life together.
Weber is survived by his four daughters: Wendy Ruth Weber; Elizabeth Anne Weber; Pamela Jean Weber; and Linda Lorraine Turner (Mark). In addition, he also is survived by his grandchildren: Courtney Elizabeth Weigand (Christopher); Sean Robert Behnke; Nicole Elizabeth Weber; Ryan Douglas Turner; Hannah Lorraine Turner; and Adam Jerome Turner; his brother LeRoy Chando Weber (Beverly); and his cat “Mitty.”
The family will hold a private memorial service celebrating Weber’s life. As a remembrance, in lieu of flowers, please consider making donations to any of the following; Huron Woods Memory Care Center, 5361 McAuley Drive, Ypsilanti, Michigan 48106, attn.: William Scott; Arbor Hospice of Michigan, 2366 Oak Valley Drive, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103; The Alzheimer’s Association of Michigan, 564 S. Main Street Suite 200, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104; or the Huron River Watershed Council c/o Walter J. Weber, Jr. Legacy Fund, 1100 N. Main Street #210, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104.
— Submitted by Beth Weber