Judge Weber, man of law and family, will be missed

Former Superior Court Judge dead at 94

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  • Young Frederic Weber with his mother Mildred, who died in 1969. According to her wishes, Mildred's ashes will be buried with her son's remains. Photos provided

  • From left: Judge Weber, his daughter Gretchen Lauzon, his daughter Patricia Rittenhouse, his wife Patricia, his daughter Lee Whitby, and his daughter Heidi Weber

  • Judge Weber and his wife, Patricia, with their five grandchildren, where the Judge loved to be, by the pool.

  • Judge Weber loved a parade. often the Newton Town Crier would ask him to ring the bell.

By Laurie Gordon

FREDON — Whenever there was a big parade in Newton, Judge Frederic Weber could be found seated at the same spot, on Spring Street, ready to spectate. The Town Crier would ask him to ring the bell, and the Judge, who was always surrounded by his daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren, did so. He loved patriotism and he was the epitome of a family man.

On Thursday evening, May 24, Judge Frederic Gordon Weber passed away at his Fredon home at age 94, and Sussex County lost an icon. The judge had an incredible career, served his county and his community and, above all, had an extreme passion for enjoying his family. His wife and daughters were by his side when he left this world.

Weber was born on September16, 1923, in Springfield, Massachusetts. Son of the late Charles and Mildred (Hewitt) Weber, he was a graduate of Newton Elementary School and Newton High School (Class of 1941). He was a member of band, orchestra, Glee Club, mixed chorus and Dramatics Club. He was also the manager of the wrestling team that won the State Championships and, for his work with the team, he earned a varsity letter.

His undergraduate studies began at Brothers College, Drew University, in Madison. While in college, he was admitted to Tau Kappa Alpha - National Honorary Forensic Society and was a member of band, Men's Glee Club, debating team, the International Relations Club as well as the Drama Club. In 1943, Judge Weber left college to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II.

He graduated Medical Technician School, O'Reilly General Hospital, Springfield, Missouri, and graduated from Medical Field Service School at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania and was later commissioned in the Medical Administrations Corps. In addition, he graduated from the School for Personnel Services, War Department, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Va. First Lt. Weber served as chief, Reconditioning Service at Lovell General Hospital.

Following the war, he entered the School of Law, Rutgers, in September 1946. While in law school, Judge Weber was initiated as a member of the Delta Theta Phi Law fraternity, in which he became a life member. He earned an LL.B. from Rutgers Law School in October 1948 and then earned his Juris Doctor from Rutgers Law School in March 1968.

Judge Weber was admitted to practice as an attorney at law in the courts of New Jersey on May 6, 1949. He was admitted to practice as a counselor at law on June 12, 1952, specializing in torts and crimes. After admission to the bar, he transferred from his Army Reserve Commission to the Judge Advocate General Corps. He graduated July 1952 from Judge Advocate General School, Fort Totten, N.Y.

In September 1949, Weber formed a partnership for the general practice of law with Albert G. Silverman, succeeding to the practice of Lewis Van Blarcom under the firm name of Van Blarcom, Silverman, and Weber, with offices in the Sussex and Merchants National Bank, Newton. He served as an active member of the firm until appointment to the bench in April of 1972.

He was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States in April 1957. Also, he served as secretary and counsel to the late state Sen. Alfred B. Littell, 1950-51, when Littell was president of the New Jersey State Senate. In 1952, he was appointed deputy attorney general of New Jersey during the administration of Gov. Alfred E. Driscoll under Attorney General Theodore D. Parsons. He was active in the Rutgers Law School Alumni Association, serving as president 1961-1962, the Sussex County Bar Association, serving as president from 1969-1970 as well as a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the American Judicature Association.

Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Weber was active for many years as a member and secretary of the Sussex County Ethics Committee, appointed by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. He also served as vice president, American Trial Lawyers Association, New Jersey Chapter, 1962-1963, and as a member and chairman of the Fredon Township, Sussex County, New Jersey Planning Board, from 1968 to 1972.

In November 1967, Weber was awarded the Silver Lifetime Membership of the Police Benevolent Association. He also served as chairman, Sussex County March of Dimes and as lay leader, First United Methodist Church of Newton, serving on the Board of Trustees.

He was appointed judge of the Sussex County Court Aug. 1, 1972, by Gov. William Cahill, and was appointed judge of the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey by Gov. Brendan T. Byrne, April 1, 1977, and reappointed by Gov. Thomas H. Keane in 1982.

He retired from the Superior Court Bench in April 1989, subsequently being declared an honorary lifetime member of the Sussex County Legal Secretaries Association on April 11, 1989.

This Judge was prolific: not just on the bench but with the numerous civil associations that inducted him as a member He was inducted into the Newton High School Hall of Fame in 2002. After retiring again from the bench, he served many happy years of counsel to Daggett and Kraemer.

During his tenure on the bench, Judge Weber tried some very interesting cases. One of the most famous was in 1982 when Muhammad Ali appeared in Judge Weber's courtroom to testify as a character witness for his long-time friend, Ron Lipton, who had gone on trial for assault and battery and weapons charges. The cases he tried are countless, as are the lives he impacted.

When Judge Weber died, his family went to Iliff Ruggiero Funeral Home to make the arrangements. But there was something missing. Before Judge Weber's mother passed away, she had made it her wish that when her son died, her ashes were to be buried with him in his casket. But try as they might, no one in the family could recall where her ashes were. That is, until they asked Domenick and Louis Ruggiero if they had any records. Mind you, she had died in 1969. Sure enough, after some digging, they not only found her records but that her ashes had been safely stored --for all of these years-- in a vault within the funeral home. Mildred (Hewitt) Weber would get her wish.

Judge Weber is survived by his wife, Patricia; daughters Patricia Rittenhouse, Lee Whitby (Mark), Gretchen Lauzon (Dennis) and Heidi Weber. He is also survived by five grandchildren: Andrew Rittenhouse, Charlie and Mia Lauzon, and Marah and Jamie Whitby.

One of Judge Weber's favorite things in all of the world was to watch his grandchildren and their friends play in the family pool: but there was one condition. The kids couldn't leave until they sang “On Top of Spaghetti” for the Judge.

Newton parades won't be the same without Judge Weber there watching. And when his grandchildren play lacrosse or football, run or act in a play, they'll miss that wonderful smile of pride on Judge Weber's face. He was just one of those people who lit up a room and made you feel special whenever you were in his presence.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, May 30, at 11 a.m., in the First United Methodist Church in Newton. Military Honors and Interment services will follow at the Newton Cemetery. Online condolences to www.iliff-ruggierofuneralhome.com

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