Oct. 18, 2000
THE TIE THAT BINDS
By Chas Jordan
Though his college roommate and lifelong friend, Chuck Noe, would sometimes jokingly refer to him as "the pebble," anyone who knew the late Bob Weir would most certainly agree the more common nickname of "the Rock" was by far the most fitting. A label first used to describe his tenacious play at defensive end for the Cavaliers from 1947-1951, "Rock" Weir's steadfast commitment and undying loyalty to the Virginia football program remained true to form long after his playing days were over. On or off the field, those who knew Bob Weir, knew his determination and unfaltering dedication measured second to none. He died in December of 1999 at the age of 74.
"He was a rock in everything he ever believed in, and you just could not move him," said life-long friend Chuck Noe. "He was a rock about values, about politics, and about everything in life. You just could not move Bob Weir."
Weir started his football career at Princeton before leaving to serve four years in the South Pacific as a marine in World War II. Following the war, Weir's desire to continue playing football took him to Notre Dame, but, due to defensive end Leon Hart, his chances of actually playing for the Irish did not look good. Hart eventually became an All-American at Notre Dame, while Weir went to Charlottesville to become a Cavalier. He joined legendary coach Art Guepe's squad in 1947 and played during what would become one of the most successful four-year periods in Virginia football history. Weir served as co-captain, along with All-America running back Johnny Pappit, his senior season and helped lead that team to an 8-2 record. During his four-year career at Virginia, the Cavaliers posted an impressive 27-10-1 mark.
Though a native of Wilkes-Barre Pa., Weir grew very fond of Charlottesville while serving as a member of the Virginia football squad. Noe remembers his former roommate often expressed a desire to return to the northeastern part of the country following his playing days, but after four years at the University, it was Charlottesville that had captured his heart. Weir never did make his way back up North, but instead, joined Noe along the sidelines as an unofficial assistant coach for the Madison County High School football team.
"My first job was at Madison County High School as the head football, basketball and baseball coach. Of course, football was first, so I asked Weir to be my assistant," recalled Noe. "We took the play book of [former Virginia head coach] Art Guepe, cut it back and used three defenses and five or six [offensive] plays. We went unbeaten at 10-0, and Weir said at the end of the year that he resigned from coaching undefeated and untied."
Yet, it would not be long before Weir returned to the game he loved so dearly and eventually made his way back to manning the sidelines. Only two years after graduating, "Rock" played in the University's first alumni-varsity football game and once again suited up for the orange and blue. Though he put on the pads for the first four games of this annual spring time event, Weir remains best known for his role as coach of the alumni squad. Above all, his unwavering desire to maintain camaraderie among the Virginia football family, even during the hardest of times, served as the catalyst which ultimately made the alumni-varsity football game a tradition for nearly 30 years.
"We started what we called the alumni-varsity football game," said Weir in an interview conducted last fall. "We created a game where the alumni would come back and play the varsity team every spring. We had pros return that could have ruined their careers, but they loved this University so much, they would come back and play in this game."
The overwhelming success of the alumni-varsity game prompted an even greater desire in "Rock" Weir to further the efforts of reuniting former Cavaliers from all eras. Though the football alumni and varsity players battled it out on the gridiron for the final time in 1980, the end of this annual spring tradition paved the way for a more frequent celebration of the companionship that exists within the Cavalier football family. The initial idea for a former player's clubhouse came from one-time Virginia player and assistant coach Ed Henry, but it was Weir's relentless passion that saw the project to fruition. "Rock" spearheaded the efforts to renovate the original locker room facility at Scott Stadium into a gathering place for Virginia football letterman. He and Henry worked hard to raise the $250,000 necessary to convert the old facility into a meeting place for football lettermen before and after each home football game. The Locker Room was dedicated to the late Charles Frankel, a long-time UVa team doctor, in September of 1990.
"We wanted to name the building after Dr. Charles Frankel. Unfortunately, the University said we could not name it Frankel Hall, because it had to be a new building before you could name it after someone," said Weir. "So, we set a policy that there would be no photos of any football players or coaches other than a portrait of Dr. Frankel. We also had a bronze plaque put up in dedication of him, so basically, on the inside it was Dr. Frankel Hall."
Exactly how special Bob "Rock" Weir really was to the Virginia football program and the entire Cavalier football family is most accurately displayed in the unbelievable response to the Robert C. "Rock" Weir Memorial Fund. The fund served to raise the $25,000 needed to purchase one of the lockers in the new team locker room, so that it could be named in Weir's honor. As a testament to "Rock's" impact on the entire Virginia football community, the memorial fund attracted contributions from well over 250 people, including the entire current football coaching staff as well as Athletic Director Terry Holland. Weir's unwavering love and dedication to the University of Virginia and its football program truly made him one-of-a-kind.
"I don't know of any school in the country that has or had a Rock Weir," said Noe. "He was the guy that kept a link between the old football players and the new guys. He was a constant link for years and a rock within the University of Virginia football program."
Few knew Bob Weir as well as former college roommate and lifelong friend Chuck Noe, yet everybody who knew him understood exactly how much he meant to the Cavalier football program. Weir's nickname accurately described his approach towards just about everything in life. A champion for fellowship within the Cavaliers' football family, Weir will always hold a special place in the hearts of all those associated with the Virginia football program.
"The friendship I developed with Bob Weir while at the University of Virginia is probably the most special friendship that I have ever had in my life," said Noe. "He was a unique person, and the reason I gravitated toward him and loved him so much was the fact he was the most loyal person I have ever seen in my life. Simply put, he was the "Rock"------period.