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Wesley S. Wieting

Wesley Wieting was introduced to Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in July 1995 by Myrta Pfeiffer, when she invited him to join her for lunch one day to meet David Heetland from the seminary. Myrta was a life trustee at Garrett- Evangelical, and took seriously her responsibility to introduce others to the seminary. Wes and Myrta both lived at Beacon Hill, a retirement community in Lombard, Illinois. His late wife, Norma, and Myrta had been close friends, as both had been active in The United Methodist Church at the local, conference, and international levels. Wes and Myrta were friends who liked to joke that they were the Methodist Mafia in a retirement community dominated by Missouri Synod Lutherans and Southern Baptists.

Wes himself was no stranger to the church. Born in a parsonage on November 10, 1910, Wes liked to comment that there was always plenty of “God talk” around when he was growing up. With a wry sense of humor, Wes would tell folks that his father, a clergyman in the Chicago German Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was in the fire insurance business.

Wes discovered his calling in architecture. After graduating with a degree in architecture, he served in the corps of engineers from 1942-1946. In 1946 he joined the architectural firm of Perkins and Will in Chicago, married Norma Schmidt, and moved to Oak Park, Illinois, where they lived for 45 years. In retirement, Wes served for over 20 years as a volunteer for the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio and drew sketches of the Frank Lloyd Wright homes that were used on note paper and T-shirts.

Wes was a Renaissance man. He was an avid gardener, and loved music and drama. He and Norma attended the Chicago Symphony, the Lyric Opera, and the Goodman Theater. They traveled widely, both in the United States and Europe. Wes played the piano, enjoyed photography, and read extensively, collecting a large library.

The church was the focal point of their lives, however. Wes and Norma were active members of Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church in Oak Park, Illinois, where both sang in the choir. Wes used his artistic ability to design church bulletin covers, the logo of the church, banners, a paper mache crèche scene, and a cross and large butterfly that could be hung above the worship table.

Despite growing up in the parsonage and being active in the church all his life, Wes had not given a lot of thought to how or where ministers were trained until that lunch in July 1995. Myrta shared with Wes the joy she experienced in creating a scholarship at Garrett-Evangelical and getting to meet the scholarship recipients. A seed was planted.

Wes’ first gift to the seminary was a memorial gift to the Pfeiffer Scholarship in 1997 when Myrta passed away. Two years later Wes indicated he wanted to do something in memory of his parents, August and Elsbeth Wieting. He had already established a scholarship in his name at the Illinois Institute of Technology, his alma mater. Now he was ready to honor his parents and their years of ministry by establishing a scholarship in their names at Garrett-Evangelical. He established the scholarship with an initial gift of $43,975, and added to it each year until it grew to more than $115,000. He, too, experienced the joy of meeting his scholarship recipients when his niece, Shirley Benson, and her husband, Howard (a Garrett alum), brought him to the annual scholarship luncheons at the seminary.

Wesley Wieting passed away on March 16, 2007, at the age of 96. In April of that year the seminary learned that it was a beneficiary of his estate, and would receive a bequest in excess of $750,000 for the August and Elsbeth Wieting Endowed Scholarship.

Wes spent the majority of his career building schools and office buildings throughout the United States. In his death, he will be building future leaders for our churches and communities through several Wieting Leadership Scholarships. Garrett- Evangelical is deeply grateful to Wes Wieting for his faithful stewardship— and to Myrta Pfeiffer for inviting him to lunch in 1995.