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Mike Riehls

War Memorial president retires


After three decades, Weber steps aside


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Mark Weber of Grosse Pointe Farms stepped down the presidency of the Grosse Pointe War Memorial Dec. 31.

January 10, 2013
In his 32 years as president of the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, Mark Weber's goal was to change people's minds. He retired Dec. 31.

Under his guidance, the iconic War Memorial evolved from a rental hall to a local cultural institution — by taking the community's pulse and responding with classes, lectures, dinners and cultural activities to meet those needs, he said, and honoring service men and women.

"It's an honor to have Memorial Day and Veterans' Day services," he said.

"The changes in programming we're trying to make Grosse Pointe the best place it can be. We're talking about understanding things differently. If someone comes to the War Memorial and changes a little bit, learns about the world, those little changes — it's significant."

Whether people attend a meeting of one of the 30 non-profits that call the War Memorial home, hear a lecture, see a play or attend a wedding reception, "you walk away with a good feeling, that's the basis of our philosophy," he added.

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Weber said he is proud of the War Memorial's tribute to the past and present service men and women, and the collaboration of the community leaders and schools. The cable television station, owned and operated by the non-profit War Memorial, and lined with 24/7 programming with locally-based shows, is also a source of pride, he said.

A Grosse Pointe native, Weber graduated from Indiana University and earned a Ph.D. His goal was to become president of a small college or university. While teaching at IU, Weber was enticed to come home to change the facility from a rental hall into a continuing education facility to meet the needs and interests of the community.

"That's the part that interested me," he said in a phone interview, "to become a change agent, (meeting) cultural, educational, patriotic, civic needs and interests."

With his wife, Judy, also an IU graduate, they moved into the Alger House. Their son, Rob, was the first child to live in that house since the original owners. The family, including a dog, lived there for two years, until moving to a Grosse Pointe Farms house, where their daughter, M.G., calls home.

Their former apartment was turned into Weber's office and a development office.

Weber said he can't take the credit for the institution's achievements, but points to the War Memorial's active board and staff who serve between 150,000 and 200,000 people a year in life-long learning offerings and special events and the kitchen staff preparing more than 60,000 meals every year.

Additionally, he has most recently overseen the installation of a new roof, cobblestone entry, handicap accessible features, an improved stage area and the veterans' garden.

He modestly takes no credit. "It's just a lot of collaboration," he said. "I feel good about the War Memorial and what we have done over 32 years. I haven't done it, but it's been an honor for me to help."

Though retiring from the War Memorial, he said he is not retiring from the community.

"I'll be involved with the community. I'm looking at other challenges and things I'd like to do in the community, a promoter of synergy and volunteering."

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