Richard B. Weir, an English teacher, professor, and member of the Class of 1940 at the American Academy in Larnaca, passed away on Friday, May 12, 2017 at the Reformed Presbyterian Home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. He was 93 years old.
He was born in Larnaca on December 28, 1923 to William Wilbur and Elizabeth Ewing Weir. W.W. Weir was the Headmaster of the American Academy in Larnaca. After Richard graduated from the American Academy he traveled to the United States in 1941 to pursue his education.
He began his undergraduate education at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, USA in September, 1941. On December 7 of that year, the United States entered World War II with the attack on Pearl Harbor, and exactly three weeks later he turned 18. Because of the missionary furlough trips of his family, he had fallen in love with the maritime world, and eventually joined the United States Merchant Marine for his war-time service. He worked on merchant ships during the Battle of the Atlantic, moving supplies and troops across the ocean in convoys for the Allied offensive in Europe. Two major memories of that time were his trip to Murmansk, Russia in 1944-1945, and the sinking of the Liberty Ship “SS Robert L. Vann” on March 1, 1945. In 1992, he received a medal for his participation in the Murmansk Convoy from the Russian Federation. He continued to go to sea during the summers from 1946-1960, and was licensed by the United States Coast Guard as a Third Officer for the United States Merchant Marine. His maritime and missionary experiences provided him with many stories which he told in the classroom.
He returned to Geneva College in 1945 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1947. On June 28, 1947 he married Jean Crawford of Bronxville, New York, and was married to her for 58 years until her passing in January, 2006. Richard and Jean made their way to the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he completed the M.A. degree in English literature in 1948. From 1948-1949 he was in the graduate program in the Department of English of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. In 1950, he enrolled in the graduate progam in English literature at New York University, and ultimately completed the Ph.D. degree in 1974. His dissertation was on “Thomas Sternhold and the Beginnings of English Metrical Psalmody.” The original Sternhold Psalter was the first psalter used for singing in the emerging Protestant Church of England. The psalter was completed by Thomas Sternhold in about 1547 and was a predecessor to the more famous Sternhold and Hopkins Psalter that the Church of England used for over two centuries. During his time at New York University he taught in the School of Commerce, worked for a while for the American Export Company, and in 1953 began teaching English at Roger Ludlow High School in Fairfield, Connecticut.
In 1955, he took a teaching position at Pelham Memorial High School in Pelham, New York, where he served for 28 years, from 1955-1983. He was Chair of the Department of English at Pelham High School from 1968-1974. After serving as an adjunct professor for eight years he was appointed to the faculty of The King’s College in 1983 when it was located in Briarcliff Manor, New York. During his 11 years there as Associate Professor of English, he was Chair of the Department from 1989-1994. He also was an adjunct instructor in the Graduate Division of Iona College from 1981-1984. While he was teaching in Pelham, he took on the position of Manager of the Bronxville Cemetery, a cemetery owned by his local congregation. He served in that post from 1961-1992.
He was active in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America at the local, regional, and national levels. For 62 years he was a ruling elder in the New York City, and then the Ridgefield Park, New Jersey Reformed Presbyterian Church, where he served as Clerk of Session for 60 of those years. He served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and of Geneva College. He was also active in local civic organizations. For many decades he was a leader in the American Academy Alumni Association of New York. In his retirement he took up the activity of building wooden boats, and was able to complete four wooden boats, which he displayed to school children and others interested in that craft. In 2012, he took up residence at the Reformed Presbyterian Home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Besides his wife Jean, his sister Margaret Weir Carson pre-deceased him. He is survived by three children, William J. (Rose), David A. (Bonnie) and Nancy J. Stombaugh (Ken). He is also survived by six grandchildren: Jennifer (Brian) George, Natalie (Daniel) Faris, and Janelle (fiancé Davis Robinson), Elise, Timothy, and Isaiah Weir. At the time of his death he also had seven great-grandchildren: Tirzah, Keziah, Acacia and Jordan George, and Samuel, William (“Liam”) and Isaiah Faris. Visitation Hours will be held from 6:00-9:00 P.M. on Wednesday, May 24 at the Fred H. McGrath and Son Funeral Home, 20 Cedar Street, Bronxville, New York (www.mcgrathandson.com). A funeral service will be held on Thursday, May 25 at 10:00 A.M. at the Ridgefield Park Reformed Presbyterian Church, 310 Main Street, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. Interment will follow at approximately 12:30 P.M. at the Bronxville Cemetery, 18 Midland Avenue, Bronxville, New York. A Memorial Service will be held at 10:00 A.M. on Saturday, June 24 at the Reformed Presbyterian Home, 2344 Perrysville Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15214. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Reformed Presbyterian Home.