PEORIA - Robert Avery Weaver, 90, of Peoria passed away at 8:30 a.m. Friday, July 4, 2014, at his home on the farm, surrounded by his family.
Bob will be remembered for being a Christian gentleman of high character and compassionate for his fellow man.
He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Virginia (Garber) Weaver. He is also survived by his children, Jerry (Nancy) Weaver, Phyllis (Don) Crouch, Steve (Shelley) Weaver, Karen (Bob Vespa) Weaver and Chuck (Laurie) Weaver; and sister, Darlene Weaver. He is also survived by 16 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Avery and Lena Weaver; and siblings, Florence Baltz Simonson, Opal Wilson, Glenn Weaver, Dorothy Birkey and Dr. Floyd Weaver.
Bob was born Aug. 25, 1923, on a farm in Fisher, Ill. It was there he borrowed money to purchase his first Angus heifer at age 12. He moved to Peoria County to farm the Robin's Nest Farm owned by Murray Baker in 1942. It was in Peoria that Bob and Virginia met at the Ann Street Mennonite Church. His Christian faith that was deepened there would be the compass that would direct his life. He and Virginia later attended the First United Methodist Church of Peoria.
Bob and Virginia purchased what would become Weaver Angus Farm in Peoria in 1948. From humble beginnings, Bob built Weaver Enterprises into a successful, diversified family business on the principles of hard work, integrity and vision. A pivotal event took place in 1964 when Bob and Colonel Harlan Sanders agreed to a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise partnership over a handshake. Over the years, several KFC franchises would form the nucleus of Weaver Enterprises.
Always a farmer at heart, Bob also owned one of the premier herds of Black Angus cattle in the country. He enjoyed exhibiting his pleasure driving horses at competitions and events throughout the country, as well as Canada and England.
Bob was honored to serve on a number of charitable boards, but his favorite title was that of "Grandpa," even to those who were not his actual grandchildren. Bob was a founder of Youth Farm and particularly enjoyed his years of service on the Salvation Army Advisory Board, where he was an emeritus board member, as well as the recipient of the William Booth Award and the "Others" Award. He was a member of the New York Coaching Club and the Coaching Club of England, an honorary life director of The Carriage Association of America, president of the Illinois Angus Association, recipient of the Pioneer Angus Breeder Award, honoree in the American Angus Association Heritage Hall of Fame, president of the Mennonite Relief Sale, member of the Board of Governors of the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, member of the Youth for Christ Board and honoree of the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame. Bob and Virginia were jointly honored as the Association of Fundraising Professionals Philanthropists of the Year, as well as being the Easter Seals Tribute Dinner honorees.
The family is grateful for the excellent care given him by Andrea, Chelsea, Rahula and Rita, as well as Methodist Hospice.
Memorial gifts may be given to Salvation Army Heartland Division, Easter Seals UCP or The First United Methodist Church of Peoria.
Visitation was from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday, July 7, at First United Methodist Church in Peoria. There will be a memorial service at the church today, July 8 at 11 a.m. A private family burial will be held prior to the memorial service. The family will also greet friends following the service.
Online tributes and condolences may be made at www.Woolsey-Wilton.com.
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