At 12:02 p.m. on Sunday, July 4, my grandfather Jerome “Jerry” Weiss passed away at the age of 95.
Until I was 10 my grandfather lived in a house one street over from where my family lived, but after some heart trouble in the mid-90’s, he moved in with us into a new house (my grandmother died in 1994). He drove until my dad took his keys away from him around age 92 and was a regular fixture at a gym where he exercised several times per week. For the last 15 years he lived mostly by himself, in our basement. He’s kind of been a fixture there, and I can’t imagine going downstairs and him not being there. The idea still seems strange to me. Honestly, it could be a little while before I manage to make it back down there for that reason.
What can you say about a guy who was a soldier during World War II, lived through the Great Depression and witnessed the largest steps forward humanity has made technologically all in his lifetime? During the 90’s he harassed Newt Gingrich as a member of the group “Newt Watch,” and called for a single payer health-care before it was the talking point of the week for liberal groups. He was also an unrepentant Ralph Nader voter in 2000.
His death wasn’t unexpected in the least. Over the past year he’d been in and out of the hospital and early last month was moved to hospice care, for the second time. Yeah, for the second time. Last year after first going to the hospital, he was moved into one but got into a bit of a fight with the service because the food wasn’t healthy enough. Instead, he moved back home and managed to stick it out for another year. It’s kind of a metaphor for his life though, he always wanted to dictate his own terms. I think that’s what people will remember him for: the guy who when being admitted to the emergency room proceeded to lecture the doctor about antibiotics in his food when asked if he was taking any medication. So, when I got the call I’d been expecting for over a decade on Sunday, it was more of a relief than anything else.
Even in his 90’s, he never lost his fight.
In honor of his life, I’m posting some of the photos I have taken of him over the last few years. His funeral is Tuesday, July 6th at 10 a.m. at Arlington Memorial Cemetery in Sandy Springs. He’s survived by his sons Mark Weiss (my father) and Stanley Weiss (my uncle), and his grandsons Matthew Weiss (my brother) and me.