Freeport, Illinois — Former Freeport Mayor, friend and loved one to so many, Richard C Weis passed away last night peacefully in his home with his wife by his side.
Known in Freeport by many as “The Big Kahuna”, Weis served the city as Freeport’s mayor during the years 1989 to 1997. His contributions to the Freeport area are legendary and no number of accolades is adequate.
Weis was born on April 27, 1936 in Milwaukee. Son of Richard Albert and Dorothy (Hammer) Weis. Weis received his Bachelor of Science degree from Wisconsin University in 1976.
In his lifetime Weis was a reporter for the Northwest Reporter in Milwaukee during the years 1956-1959. He was publisher of Teen Beat from 1959-1961. He also served as an account executive at W-Rochester Institute of Technology Radio from 1961-1963.
From there Weis went onto being the sales manager at WYLO Radio from 1963-1965, WUTU Channel 18 in Milwaukee from 1965-1970 and then Vice president general manager at Schlitz Broadcast from 1970-1978.
From 1978-1981 Weis worked for Channel 24 WCGV out of Milwaukee. He was also the owner of Weis Inc., a Freeport, Illinois based company from 1981-1989.
In 1981 Weis bought the radio station WFPS. WFPS signed on the air on November 1, 1970 under the caller letters of WACI. It is said that Weis did not like the connotation “WACKY” so the caller letters were changed to WFPS and the format changed to an Adult Contemporary format in the fall of 1982. Weis owned the station until he became the mayor of Freeport, Illinois.
Weis was also a big supporter of the people of Freeport. In a 1999 article in the Chicago Tribune Weis befriended local boxing legend Gerald McClellan and tried to help the fighter navigate the hometown causes and occasional threats of those who wanted a piece of him or his money.
“I was very proud of him,” Weis said at the time. “Here was a young man who had a very tough go, and he turned his life around as a boxer and as a man.”
Weis was named Volunteer of Year, Martin Luther King Community Services in 1990 and Outstanding Citizen, Freeport International Fellowship in 1992. He enjoyed coaching college football and basketball.
Weis also served as President of Crime Stoppers in Freeport in 1984, helped with Muscular Dystrophy causes in Milwaukee in 1974 and served for Greater Downtown Freeport in 1985.
He was a volunteer for VietNow in 1990, a board member of the American Leadership in 1994 and served as a board member for the Illinois Municipal League from 1989-1990.
Weis was also the past President of the Freeport Chamber of Commerce in 1986 as well as serving as past President of the Noon Rotary Club.
In 1997, Jim Gitz succeeded Weis as Mayor of the city of Freeport, Illinois.
Weis believed strongly in the community of Freeport. He believed in people and believed in helping one another and he will be greatly missed.
Jim Sacia said of Weis, “The ability to communicate with others beyond just the words spoken or written is truly an art. Some do it very well, others fail miserably. A man who has mastered the art, and whom I have always held in the highest esteem, is former Freeport Mayor Dick Weis”.
Current Freeport Mayor Jim Gitz said of Weis, “Dick Weis was mayor at a very critical time for the city. He brought a lot of enthusiasm, dedication and creativity to the position of mayor. He was open to new ideas, put new money into infrastructure and encouraged people to become involved in this community. His sense of community promotion was second to none. He was always trying to make Freeport better. He will be missed.”
Services for Weis will be announced by the family at a later time.