John Ray Weir(1911 - 2013)

John Ray Weir, the beloved founder of Weir's Furniture-the Dallas home furnishings retailer that opened its first store at 3219 Knox Street 65 years ago and expanded to four locations throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area-died peacefully March 18, 2013 at his home. He was 102. "We are deeply saddened by his passing but strengthened by his faith and legacy," said Blake Weir, one of Weir's five grandsons. "He was a pioneer in the industry and a mentor and inspiration to his family and associates." Weir served as President and Chief Operating Officer of the company until 1972 when he passed the leadership torch to his son, Dan Weir. Although the patriarch was officially retired, he continued to serve on the board until 2009 and maintained a keen interest in the family-owned-and-operated company until his death. Friends and colleagues describe Weir as a remarkable man whose integrity, kindness, generosity, dedication and exemplary work ethic inspired others. While he achieved a great deal during his lifetime, Weir always believed his deep faith and strong personal relationship with Jesus Christ, his Lord and Savior, would be his greatest legacy. "Paw Paw was a big thinker and was able to solve problems with great creativity and finesse," said grandson Todd Moore. "Paw Paw's lasting impact is his reflection of Christ's love in my life." Born March 3, 1911, Weir was named after John the Baptist by his mother. Following her untimely death at the age of 26, Weir grew up on his grandparents' farm in Lecompte, Louisiana. Helping his grandfather tend the farm instilled the guiding principles that became the foundation of his life and business: put God first in everything you do; always treat others the way you would want to be treated; be honest in everything you do; do your best and never give up; and keep the faith. Granddaughter Amy Fullerton commented, "Love is the greatest gift of all. Paw Paw inspired us to love the Lord with all our heart and to love one another." Weir attended Texas Christian University for a short time before exploring several career paths, including a brief stint at his father's retail store, Weir and Caffey Furniture in Fort Worth. Despite his reluctance to be a second-generation furniture merchant, he purchased Mullins Furniture, a modest twenty-foot by seventy-foot store on Dallas' Knox Street, in 1948 and renamed it Weir's Early American Shop. With one adding machine, one telephone and his supportive wife, Bea, by his side, Weir immersed himself in every aspect of his business-bookkeeping, ordering, purchasing, polishing, selling and delivering merchandise in his 1937 Chevy truck. Daughter Patsy Moore recalls, "Mother and Dad made a great team. Dad's can-do attitude and Mother's servant heart made people feel welcome when they came into Knox." From the beginning, Weir decided that serving his customers' best interests would be a priority, and it remains so today as the third and fourth generations of the Weir family carry on the mission. Weir also cared deeply about the people who chose to work for his business and established a culture where associates are treated with courtesy, respect, honesty and compassion. Grandson Brad Weir said, "Paw Paw's tremendous work-ethic and business values provided a foundation for us to learn and grow as employees, personally, and as leaders. I'm thankful for the lasting legacy that the Lord has allowed the life of J. Ray Weir to have on my life and the lives of countless others beyond what he could have ever imagined." His innovative retail practices-selling open stock pieces and not just furniture suites, including discount information on price tags, and opening a signature Country Store with a post office and candy counter inside Weir's-helped the business grow and prosper. "His visionary commitment to sowing seeds of service and satisfaction resulted in a secure foundation upon which our family and our family business thrive. How grateful we are for his resolve to this purpose," noted grandson Brooks Weir. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the company broke ground on a second store in Plano, Texas. Under the leadership of grandson Mark Moore, another retail store opened in Southlake, Texas in 2007, followed in 2011 by a fourth location in Farmers Branch, home to the company's corporate offices, warehouse and a furniture outlet. Son Dan Weir recalled, "Dad was a great merchant, but he was great at anything he set his mind to accomplish." Away from work, Weir enjoyed a variety of challenges and hobbies throughout his life-piloting small airplanes, raising and breeding cocker spaniels, playing the organ, photography (including developing his own film) and model railroads. He was an avid art collector, and in his seventies, he became an accomplished painter. But his large extended family was his biggest joy. He often told others: "Besides the Lord Jesus Christ, family is the greatest thing in life." Grandson Mark Moore said, "Paw Paw taught me the importance of faith, family, friends, furniture and having fun. My fondest memories are of fishing in Lake Athens and watching sunsets in Carmel. He was my encourager, confidant and wise counselor, but above all else, he was my friend." Weir was preceded in death by his wife of 59 years, Bea Daniel Weir, and granddaughter Julie Ann Moore. He is survived by his daughter Patsy Weir Moore and son and daughter-in-law Daniel and Martha Weir; his six grandchildren, their spouses and 21 great-grandchildren: Mark and D'Ann Moore, Benjamin and Matthew; Bill and Amy (Moore) Fullerton, Katie, Megan and Will; Todd and Kristin Moore, Sarah Beth, Mary Grace and Drew; Blake and Laura Weir, Hunter, Andrew, Mason, Janie and Elliot; Bradford and Angela Weir, Annaleise and Bradford Jr.; and Brooks and Gretchen Weir, Vincent, Alexander, Evan, Oliver, Hannah and Lilly. The Weir family wishes to express its deep gratitude to Carolyn Rowlett for the friendship, loving care, encouragement and joyful nature that she so graciously shared during her time as a trusted aide to Mr. Weir. The Weir family also wishes to thank caregivers Gloria Smith and Verlene Murphy for their kind service. In addition, Dr. Melanie O. Christina and the staff of Faith Presbyterian Hospice provided exemplary support and comfort to Mr. Weir and his family. Visitation will be held Sunday, March 24, 2013 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral Home in Dallas. A memorial service will be held at Park Cities Baptist Church at 11 a.m. on Monday, March 25, following a graveside service at Restland Cemetery in Dallas. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations please be made to the in tribute to Mr. Weir's love for his late wife Bea or to the J. Ray Weir Endowed Scholarship Fund at Dallas Baptist University. "Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children is their father." Proverbs 17:6

Published in Dallas Morning News from Mar. 21 to Mar. 29, 2013