Weir was decorated Vietnam War vet
December 20, 2018
Longtime Chilkat Lake resident Bill Weir died Nov. 15 at Mount Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka of smoking and heart-related issues. He was 70.
“First and foremost Bill was a decorated wounded veteran,” fellow Vietnam veteran and hunting partner Terry Pardee said. Weir served as an M60 machine gunner with the 25th Infantry “Wolfhounds.” Pardee said he earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for valor.
William Albert Weir was born March 13,1948 in Juneau to William and Lucille Weir. His father was an electrical contractor, his mother made wedding cakes, and his grandmother was Douglas pioneer Bertha Goetz.
He attended school there, leaving before graduation to enlist in the Army. He celebrated his eighteenth birthday on the ship to Vietnam, and earned his GED while in the service. He married Judy Ward from Haines 21 months later at the Juneau Church of Christ on Dec. 31, 1967. His mother baked the cake. They lived in Anchorage for 10 years, where he worked on the crash response team at the Anchorage airport and for Mukluk Freight Lines before moving to Juneau and becoming an able-bodied seaman on the Alaska Marine Highway. He and Judy divorced. “We were so young. Just kids when we got married,” she said. They reunited and wed again in 1986. They celebrated 50 years together on New Year’s Eve 2017.
When Weir retired in 1994 they settled on Birch Island in Chilkat Lake. Judy said he was the “perfect person” for lake life, because he was “extremely” capable. “Bill knew plumbing, electrical, and could fix any engine or generator. People were always coming by for his help,” she said. For many years Weir also ferried homeowners and visitors in and out of the remote lake and sometimes rescued stranded boaters in the river with his airboat. “Bill really liked being at the lake. He could stay out there forever,” Barbara Pardee said. The Weirs lived there for 21 years until his health issues forced a move to town in 2015.
Weir had strong opinions, and was not shy about sharing them, especially when it came to government bureaucracy. “He could also talk about a lot of things that could surprise you,” Barbara Pardee said. “Bill’s mind was so sharp.”
Favorite activities included snow machining, four-wheeling, running his airboat and hunting. Judy says his death “leaves a big hole in my life, but I will celebrate my many memories of living at Chilkat Lake with special friends; hot tubbing with awesome northern lights, moose hunting, gardening, barge parties, and hosting Fourth of July lake parties.”
In addition to his wife, Weir leaves siblings Kevin Weir of Juneau, Wendy Schenker (Richard) of Wasilla, sister-in-law Janet Weir of Kenai, brother-in-law Russell George of Juneau; five nephews, a niece, and four grandnieces and grandnephews.
He will be buried at Sitka National Cemetery near his brother, James Douglas Weir, who died in 2010. Sister Heather George also preceded him in death.
Local services have yet to be determined.
“The last seven months of Bill’s life were really hard. I am very, very grateful for the care we got in Haines,” Judy Weir said.
Memorial donations may be made to Friends of Fisher House 1200 W 34th Ave., Suite 29, Anchorage, Alaska 99503. Fisher House offers free lodging and support for families of hospitalized veterans.