Judson University's chancellor will be remembered as a visionary who had a habit of diffusing tension by bursting into song, President Jerry Cain said Wednesday.
Harm A. Weber, the school's former president and namesake of its environmentally sustainable academic center, passed away in Bradenton, Fla., Tuesday of complications from Parkinson's disease. He was 83.
Weber was one of the founding trustees when then Judson College opened in 1963, keeping that title until his death.
Named president in 1969, he served for 22 years. When he retired in 1991, Cain said, he was named chancellor.
Cain described Weber as "a statesman. I would use the term 'noble,' I would use the term 'visionary.' He could dream dreams that nobody else saw and make them become reality. Those earliest years you incur debt to build buildings, yet he saw through all those debts. Kept the faculty paid and students happy."
Along with his vision for the school, Weber is remembered for his singing voice. "Whenever he would be in a meeting, whenever there might be tension, he would break into singing some great hymn, often some rollicking hymn that would talk about heaven and glory," Cain said. "That meant it was time for us to regroup, circle the wagons."
After living on campus through the 1960s and '70s, Weber, his wife Arlie and their three children spent more than a decade living in the Dundee Township area.
Upon retirement, he split time between homes in Minnesota and Florida, stopping off at Judson board meetings as he made the trek.
Cain said the last time he saw Weber was in February, at his home in Bradenton.
Weber's children were all planning to travel down to the Florida home this week to help their father make the transfer into an assisted living community, Cain said.
The family has scheduled a formal funeral for Saturday. Cain will miss Judson's spring commencement to attend.
In the fall, Cain said, the university will plan its own memorial service.