Medieval History Buff
Simon V. Weiser was born in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1936. For most of the next 36 years, his family says, he tried to leave. Finally, his opportunity came, in a brief warming of the cold war in 1972, when some Jews were allowed to emigrate to Israel. His wife and son followed in 1974; the family moved to the United States in 1978 — to Canarsie, Brooklyn.
Mr. Weiser, who had been an engineer in the Soviet Union, eventually worked in power-distribution engineering for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey at its offices in the World Trade Center. At the same time, Mr. Weiser filled his house with thousands of books on scores of subjects — history, religion, photography, genetics. Over the years, he managed to collect several dozen books just on hypnosis.
Mr. Weiser loved inventing, too. As a medieval history buff, he had become engrossed with crossbows and their trigger mechanisms. He built 40 fully functioning crossbows, most of them patented. "He wanted me to become a patent lawyer," recalled his son, Anatoly Weiser, 41, of San Diego. And he did.
Mr. Weiser's family remembers how, living in Kiev, he would listen to the Voice of America. "Even in the Soviet Union, my father was an American," his son said.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on Decmeber 22, 2001.