Howe’s Brooklyn: Heights squash community praises, mourns loss of Fred Weymuller
Brooklyn Heights lost two iconic figures recently. Both were out of the public eye for a while, due to failing health, but each set a high bar for great accomplishments in their respective heydays. Residents of Brooklyn Heights and beyond mourn the loss of Jane Paige Weld and Charles Frederick Weymuller.
Charles Frederick Weymuller, loved by generations of squash players since the early 1970s, died peacefully on Jan. 30, 2017 in Rochester, N.Y.
Known as a “racquets professor,” Weymuller served as the head professional at the Heights Casino during the 1970s, after having been a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. With a passion for racquet sports and teaching, he pioneered the development of organized junior squash, making the Heights Casino the national leader that dominated junior competition.
Dozier Hasty, a former pupil of Weymuller and a former board member of the Heights Casino, noted, “Brooklyn Heights was the perfect spot to become the birthplace of high-powered junior squash. Families could afford the lessons and living in the Heights made possible the magic four-letter word for a kids’ program: W-A-L-K.”
Weymuller was able to accommodate and teach large classes of young students both before and after school. Years later, equivalent clubs in suburbs discovered the power of vital junior programs, learning from Weymuller. The programs thrived despite parents having to drive their child to and from lessons.
“Fred was prescient about the future of squash for kids, ahead of his time,” Hasty added.
Weymuller was born in Brooklyn in 1928 to Caroline Alexander and Dr. Charles Augustus Weymuller, a popular Heights pediatrician. He is predeceased by his parents and sister, Carol Weymuller Wellman. He is survived by his sister, Gretchen Weymuller Menger; many beloved nieces, nephews and cousins; brothers-in-law David (Cheryl), John, Kirk (Valerie), Scott (Kathleen) and his wife of 44 years, Carol Hunter Weymuller.
Carol, who met him when she became his assistant pro at the Casino, was also an outstanding racquets player and teacher. Guided by Fred, Carol became an unparalleled leader in women’s squash nationally and, later, internationally when the tournament named for her attracted top players from dozens of countries around the world to Brooklyn Heights.
One of the players who won that tournament more than any other was Alicia McConnell, an All-American squash star who had grown up in the Weymuller program.
“Fred was such a patient and dedicated coach. He and Carol taught me tennis, but once they showed me squash, I was hooked!” McConnell said. “The speed, agility, angles and shot-making was so much fun that I never looked back. They believed in me more than I did in myself and I am forever grateful for their encouragement and love. They created the squash powerhouse named the Heights Casino.”
Known more for his patient, professorial approach to teaching rather than athletic aggression, Fred nevertheless could “figure out how to stay on court with anybody” in his youth. Growing up, he had attended Brooklyn Friends and graduated from Poly Prep Country Day School (’46). He attended Swarthmore College, graduated from Lewis and Clark (’51) and attended Columbia Graduate School.
He taught at the Kiski School and worked at The Wall Street Journal until, at the age of 37, he became the head tennis and squash professional at the Heights Casino. He co-authored “Ed Faulkner’s Tennis, How to Teach It, How to Play It.”
In 1980, he moved to Rochester, N.Y. and was the head tennis and squash professional at the Genesee Valley Club. He was a member of the Heights Casino, past president of the North American Pro Squash Association, lifetime member of the USTA, lifetime member of the U.S. Squash Association, and was inducted into the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame in 2007. He taught hundreds of nationally ranked juniors, including many national champions and collegiate players. During the years after he began the Casino juniors program, as his students grew up and attended college, national competitions would more often than not find former Casino kids competing against each other.
“It was like a continuation of our childhoods in Brooklyn Heights,” recalled one former national champion. “Playing the same guys that we played every day when we were in grade school — we were Fred’s Boys.”
A memorial will be arranged at the convenience of his family, but no details have been released yet. Contributions in his memory can be made to U.S. Squash, Rochester Squash, Swarthmore College, or Poly Prep Country Day School.
Jane Weld Mourned: Civic Leader, Lawyer, Healer and Heights Mom
Jane Paige Weld — a civic leader, mother, lawyer and political activist in Brooklyn Heights — passed away at home on Jan. 24 after a long illness. Uncommonly buoyant, empathetic and indomitable, Weld was devoted to her family, her religion and church and her many interests.
She is survived by her husband of 51 years, Jonathan; her children, Elizabeth Wei (married to Dave) and Eric Weld (married to Tina); four grandchildren (Harrison and Alec Wei and Madeleine and Luke Weld); her sister Rae Paige Schwarz; and her brothers-in-law, Marshall Schwarz and Matthew Weld.
Jane was born in New York City in 1942, the daughter of Raymond Paige and Mary Bentley. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1963, having trained as a classical pianist. Her lifelong commitment to gender equality, based on performance more than advocacy, and her strong will had already manifested themselves when, at 18, she defeated an all-male sailing fleet in the International One Design class, as reported in Sports Illustrated. After college, Jane worked for Nelson Rockefeller (including in the presidential campaigns of 1964, during which she met Jon, and 1968), and in the New York state government, ultimately serving as one of the most senior women in the government.
For two years, while Jon was in law school, she was research assistant to Professor Clinton Rossiter at Cornell, and then went back to the state government. In 1972, Jane ran for the New York State Assembly as a liberal Republican. She won a primary, but, despite endorsements by The New York Times and Daily News, lost in the general election. Deciding that legal training would be useful, in 1973 she enrolled in Columbia Law School, where she was particularly thrilled to spend two years working for then- Professor Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the initial sex-based discrimination cases taken to the U.S. Supreme Court.
After graduation in 1977 and four years of private practice in a large law firm, she decided to spend full time with her family and began reinforcing the Christian Science faith in which she had been raised. Her children grown, in the 1990s she became a licensed Christian Science practitioner, concentrating on helping her many patients, until her death.
Intensely spiritual, she always remained grounded and joyful. Her family feels blessed to have had Jane in their lives for so many years. At Jane’s request, there will not be any services beyond the immediate family. Donations in Jane’s memory may be made to a charity of your choice.
Leave a Comment
Leave a Comment