Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Passing of Captain George H. Weller, USCG (Ret)

Capt. George H. Weller, USCG (Ret)
This morning's New York Times has this paid obituary for Captain George H. Weller, USCG (Ret). The editor knew him, and the editor's brother served under him at Governors Island, NY. Captain Weller was a law specialist (Coastguardese for judge advocate at the time) and a complete original. He was the military judge in one of the first courts-martial the editor defended. Sitting alone, he sentenced the accused -- a Vietnam Era UA recidivist assigned to USCGC Chincoteague who really didn't want to be in the service -- to three months' hard labor without confinement, "the hard labor to be performed whenever possible at St. Mary's Infants Home in Norfolk, VA." (Headquarters disapproved that part of the sentence, but ultimately got the message and the accused Seaman Recruit was administratively discharged.) After retirement from the Coast Guard, Capt. Weller became an Assistant United States Attorney in Brooklyn and then an Assistant Attorney General in Lansing, MI.

This remarkable man had a heart as well as a brain, and I will miss him. Here's the obit:

George Herbert Weller, retired US Coast Guard officer, attorney, and beloved family man, passed away on May 25th, Memorial Day, at age 94 at St. Paul's Towers retirement community in Oakland, California. Raised in Los Angeles, George attended Manual Arts High School and graduated from the US Coast Guard Academy in 1944. Shortly after graduation, he married the love of his life, Alice Carey, whom he had met at Connecticut College. George served at sea for many years, transporting GI's to Europe and returning with German POW's in the last year of WWII. After the war he captained an all-Filipino crew on a mission to relight Philippine lighthouses. With George as deck officer, the icebreaker CGC Eastwind pushed the farthest north of any ship under its own power up to that time (1948), and on its return home became the first ship to transit Fury and Hecla Strait. George spent several additional tours of duty on weather patrol in both the North Atlantic and the Pacific. Sent by the Coast Guard to George Washington University Law School, he received his J.D. in 1957 and subsequently served as USCG legal officer in California, Virginia, and New York. He coached a high school debate team and was frequently enlisted by colleagues and family members for his canny critiques. Committed to racial justice, he volunteered in the summers of 1964 and 1965 as a civil rights attorney for the Lawyers' Constitutional Defense Committed in Jacksonville, Florida and Shreveport, Louisiana. George later served as Assistant US Attorney, Eastern District of New York, 1971-1976, then as Assistant Attorney General for the State of Michigan, 1976-2002. In the latter post he defended statutes raising the drinking age to 21 and regulating lobbyists as well as arguing successfully before the US Supreme Court in Will v. Michigan State Police (1989). He retired at age 81 to California with his cherished wife Alice. George was a man of integrity, humility, humor, and courage. He was a lifelong active Catholic and liberal Democrat. Deeply loved by a wide circle of family and friends, George and Alice lent helping hands to countless people and causes over the years. In addition to his wife, George is survived by his son, Stephen Weller, daughter Karen Weller, daughter Valerie Weller and son-in-law Carl Guarneri, son-in-law Kevin McCoy and daughter-in-law Mary Geddes. His daughter Suzanne Weller passed away in 2000. He is also survived by more than a dozen beloved grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A celebration of his life will be held in Oakland, California, in August. Donations in his memory may be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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