The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh lost a great colleague and teacher when Department of Art Professor Emeritus Ron Weaver retired in 2004.
The loss deepened in December 2013 when Weaver, a professor emeritus, friend, father, gifted painter and husband died. Weaver’s courageous battle with cancer ended in his home in Arizona on Dec. 5. He was diagnosed in the spring of 2012; he died at age 74.
His art and his legacy lives on.
Weaver was most well known for his paintings. He studied throughout his life, receiving a Master of Science from Indiana University and his bachelor’s and master’s in fine arts from Yale University in 1964 and 1966, respectively. Throughout his studies, he was able to work under many famous artists such as Josef Albers, William Bailey and Lester Johnson.
But his work is not what defined him; it was the people he influenced. Among them were members of his family: his first wife Maurine Weaver, their daughter Jennifer Neuser and his second wife Barbara Major-Weaver.
“He taught me that ‘without art there is no life,’” Neuser said. “His unconditional love and his support for everything I ever did is what I’ll miss the most, and now with no more of his paintings being created, the world lost a great artist and teacher.”
Inspiring hundreds of students while teaching at UW Oshkosh for 36 years, Weaver was admired by his colleagues and graduates. They were inspired by his love of painting and of life.
One of his fellow Department of Art faculty members, Jeff Lipschutz, knew Weaver very well. Lipschutz said the two were “best buddies” at the University. He said Weaver was a very mysterious man who believed in painting with all of his heart.
“He was a very committed, serious, smart, sharp guy — very nice and always generous,” Lipschutz said. “I think it was his complimenting personality that left a long shadow of influence and admiration through decades of students.”
The impact he had on students, like his art, lives on, too. Weaver was a role model to many.
Former student Michael Paul Miller said the content of Weaver’s classes was as poetic as his feedback, and “at times it was a gratifying challenge to decipher his indirect coded comments in order to find the real genius behind what was being said.”
“Ron loved color, beauty and painting,” said Miller, professional artist and associate art professor at Peninsula College in Washington. “This passion for life and art was quite evident in his teaching as well. He was kind and soft spoken saving his words for meaningful and insightful instruction. I remember in a conversation about painting with Ron that he thought the world had enough bad things in it, and, as artists, perhaps we shouldn’t try to manufacture anymore.”
Leif Larson ’06, had class with Weaver while attending UW Oshkosh. Larson is now a full time artist and keeps a copy of one of Weaver’s paintings in his studio for inspiration.
“It was an honor to be in class with him,” Larson said. “I hope that I can still make art as long as Ron did. I admire that he was making art passionately until the day that he passed. I wish that I was able to say goodbye and hope that I can affect people by being a great person and teacher the way that Ron did.”
Another student influenced by Weaver is now an art professor at UW Oshkosh. Barbara Rosenthal said Weaver was a master of color and will be remembered for his color theory as well as his dedication.
“He had a passion for painting and lived his life to pursue his passion. I visited him and his wife Barbara Major-Weaver at his summer home in Maine. Even though I was no longer a student formally, he continued to inspire and teach,” Rosenthal said.
Through sketching every day and visiting different areas and museums in Maine, Rosenthal was able to appreciate the history of the local area through art and gain a better appreciation of it, which was what she said Weaver hoped she would take from the experience.
A gallery opening with a memorial to Weaver will take place in Maine this summer at the Mars Hall Gallery in Port Clyde. Neuser, trustee of Weaver’s paintings, hopes to display as many as possible in an effort to continue his legacy of artist and teacher.