John Augustus Weese
July 24, 1933 – July 31, 2020
John Weese passed away peacefully at his Annapolis home on July 31, 2020 at the age of 87. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Betty, daughters Carol (Walter Armstrong) and Kathy Falk (Kirk) and grandchildren Ashley and Kristin, as well as sister-in-law Jackie (Tom) Geist and their families.
John was born in Topeka, Kansas, the son of Ray and Margaret Weese. John and his parents enjoyed family activities, such as fishing, listening to the radio, and playing music together. John’s passion for model airplanes started at an early age. Working alongside his father, a service manager and eventual owner of a Nash automobile dealership, John learned about engines and during WW II, he watched squadrons of B-17s and B-29s formed at Topeka’s Forbes AFB fly off for overseas duty. Following the war, John moved with his parents to Manhattan, Kansas where he met his future wife, Betty Kay Dietrich, in the church choir. They both graduated from Manhattan High School and attended Kansas State, and married shortly after John graduated from K-State with a degree in mechanical engineering. John received a Standard Oil full scholarship to continue his engineering education at Cornell University, where he received a PhD in engineering mechanics with minors in mathematics and aeronautical engineering. Following graduation, he served in the Air Force, teaching engineering at the US Air Force Academy, where he met Col. Archie Higdon, with whom he authored several engineering textbooks.
Following his military service, John returned to work at Boeing Wichita’s Military Systems Division in the structural dynamics department, where he had worked summers during college. He might have made that a life-time career, had Boeing won the F-111 fighter aircraft contract. Driven by the desire to return to education and applied research, he resumed his teaching career at the University of Denver, eventually serving as the Dean of the College of Engineering before the university closed the college in 1974 due to budget cuts. John was offered the position of Dean of Engineering at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, so he, Betty, and their daughters moved across the country to Virginia Beach, VA. John especially enjoyed being near the water and he quickly learned how to saltwater fish, enjoying many trips in his boat on the lower Chesapeake Bay and overnight ocean fishing trips with friends in search of tuna and marlin. John successfully met his goal of increasing enrollment and research funding at ODU, and enjoyed connections he made with NASA Langley Research Center, major Navy installations and the Newport News Ship Building Company. In search of another professional adventure, John applied for a temporary position at the National Science Foundation and was appointed as the director of the division of Mechanics, Structures, and Materials Engineering Division. John enjoyed working with the large national community of leading engineering researchers and was thrilled to take part in trips to the People’s Republic of China and Lahore, Pakistan on behalf of NSF. Following his assignment at NSF, John was offered a position of Head of the Engineering Technology Department, Director of the Engineering Technology Division of the Experiment Station, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering. During his nearly 20 years at Texas A&M he served in various roles, the most intense being that of liaison between Texas A&M and the Bonfire Commission, following the fall of the Aggie Bonfire in November 1999. During his career, John was involved in many professional organizations, including Sigma Xi, ABET (formerly known as Engineers’ Council for Professional Development and as Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology), American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the American Society of Engineering Education, where he served as president from 1999-2000. John and Betty moved to Annapolis in retirement to be closer to their daughters and granddaughters, and John quickly became an active member of the Annapolis Rotary. He enjoyed living in Annapolis and being near the Chesapeake Bay again. He will be remembered as a very kind, methodical man, and a life-long learner. He loved fishing, building model airplanes, photography, reading, and solving puzzles. He especially cherished spending time with friends and family. Those wishing to do so may make a donation in his memory to either Calvary United Methodist Church on Rowe Blvd. in Annapolis, MD (www.calumc.org) or the K-State Engineering School, where he was a 1990 Hall of Fame Recipient (https://give.evertrue.com/ksu/engineering).
John Augustus Weese
August 3, 2020
John and I first met at Cornell in 1955. For several years we shared an office in Thurston Hall there. Often when coming into the office I’d see “Essen zu mittag” on the blackboard. We were both struggling to meet the German language requirement at the time. And we usually did eat lunch together, sometimes sharing some of the contents of our brown bags.
Now we’ve both finished our graduate work and completed successful careers but have kept in touch, met when we could and visited one another from time to time. Friday that priceless friendship that began 65 years ago at Cornell sadly came to an end. Auf wiedersehen, John