Norbert Leon Weckstein, 89, of Roanoke, died at Carillion Roanoke Memorial Hospital on Thursday, March 21, 2013. A resident of Roanoke since 1955, he was part of the first wave of engineers and other professionals who came with their families from Schenectady, N.Y. to the Roanoke Valley, to staff the General Electric Company's new plant in Salem. He and his wife, Gloria, like many of their GE contemporaries, quickly became involved in the civic and social life of their new community. As The Roanoke Times reported in 2005, GE's decision to open the Salem plant "changed more than the industrial history of the Roanoke Valley. It affected the culture and helped power the regional economy for many years."
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Norb went to work as an electrical engineer with General Electric upon his graduation from the University of Cincinnati in 1950, remaining with GE as an engineer and engineering manager until he retired, at age 71, in 1995. After retirement, he worked for several years as an engineering consultant for GE.
During retirement, joining other former GE engineers for Tuesday lunch has been one of his great pleasures.
As a combat infantryman with the 106th Infantry Division in the European Theater of Operations during World War II, he received the Bronze Star for meritorious service in Northern France and Germany. After victory in Europe was secured, he was on stateside leave on August 14, 1945, when Japan's surrender, which effectively ended the war, was announced. At a VJ Day party, he met Gloria Buechler, to whom he was married on June 19, 1946.
He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point until breaking an elbow on the obstacle course, which required him to withdraw.
Norb was well-known in his retirement years as the author of perceptive, well written and thoroughly researched letters to the editor and editorial commentaries, and as a participant in The Roanoke Times editorial roundtable.
A superb speaker, with a quick sense of humor and a ready store of anecdotes and jokes, he served as toastmaster for many retirement and award functions. His quick mind and vast general knowledge were evident when he was part of the three-man team that represented the Roanoke Kiwanis Club during a successful run on the local television quiz show, "Klub Kwiz."
In 1974, he received his Masters in Business Administration from Virginia Tech. He graduated first in his class, despite the fact that he was working full-time and commuting to Blacksburg at night, and was inducted into membership in the international business honor society.
Norb was a high school athlete, playing varsity baseball and participating in track and field events. After he was 40, he resumed his athletic endeavors, competing in Masters Track and Field events throughout the region. He was a decathlete, winning gold and silver medals in numerous competitions through his 60s. After injuring himself jumping hurdles at age 70, he continued to compete, and win medals, in field events throughout his 70s and early 80s. He was an avid and skillful tennis player, and also enjoyed golf. He also was a regular at the Roanoke Athletic Club, where he was widely-known and liked, and where his level of fitness, and especially his bench-pressing abilities, were subjects of frequent admiring comment, especially by those who learned his age.
He was a long-time student of natural medicine and alternative healing, reading voraciously, attending classes and seminars, subscribing to newsletters, and perusing websites.
He was interested in the acquisition of knowledge for its own sake, buying and reading thousands of books, and numerous audio and video courses on subjects philosophical, scientific, medical, and practical. He retained information, analyzed it with an engineer's logic and precision, and conversed intelligently on a host of topics. His children, two lawyers and a publisher and public-relations expert, agree that he almost always could construct more powerful and persuasive arguments, on any point of interest, than they could. He continued to be active, intelligent, and articulate through his admission to Roanoke Memorial on March 13, 2013. Even great hearts must eventually fail, as his did on March 21, 2013.
Norb and Gloria were proud alumni of Weequahic High School of Newark, NJ.
Norb was born on February 24, 1924 in Newark, NJ, the first of three children born to Herman B.J. Weckstein, a lawyer, and Cele Meyers Weckstein, a teacher.
He is survived by his wife of nearly 67 years, Gloria B. Weckstein; three children, Clifford R. Weckstein, of Roanoke, Daniel R. Weckstein ,of Chesapeake, and Barbara Weckstein Kaplowitz (Brett W. Kaplowitz), of Potomac, Md.; seven grandchildren, Virginia M. Weckstein, Margaret C. Weckstein, Benjamin A. Weckstein, Andrew M. Weckstein, Timothy E. Weckstein, Molly A. Kaplowitz, and Scott H. Kaplowitz; sisters-in-law; and by many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; his two brothers, Raymond A. Weckstein and Donald T. Weckstein; his in-laws, Seymour A. and Minna S. Buechler; brothers-in-law, Leonard N. Buechler and Coleman Buechler; and a grandson, Paul Campbell Weckstein.
Norb was a member of Roanoke's Beth Israel Synagogue since 1955, and had served on the synagogue's board of directors.
Funeral services will be conducted from Beth Israel Synagogue at 2 p.m.. Sunday, March 24, 2013, with Rabbi Fabian Werbin officiating. The Interment will follow at Beth Israel Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the
, 1400 Sixteenth St., NW, Suite 410, Washington, D.C. 20036; to Beth Israel Synagogue, 920 Franklin Rd., Roanoke, VA 24016, or to a
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Published in Roanoke Times from Mar. 23 to Mar. 24, 2013
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