July 2, 1939 — April 7, 2021
Walter G. "Spike" Weber Jr. passed from this world peacefully at home on April 7 at the age of 81. His wife, three children, brother and close friends were honored to be by his side, surrounding him with love the last week of his life.
Born in Yakima, Washington, to Phyllis Jane and Walter G. Weber Sr. on July 2, 1939, Walt was raised in Kelso, Washington, with his younger brother, John.
Many stories have been shared about the two Weber boys exploring the rivers, sloughs and fields of Cowlitz County. Those early childhood days fostered Walt's deep devotion to the outdoors.
Despite a birth injury to his hip that was undetected until walking age, and thanks to his devoted mother, Phyllis — who went as far as "camping out" in the lobby of Seattle's Children’s Orthopedic Hospital until only the best surgeon would see him— Walt overcame many surgeries and physical challenges to become a great athlete and avid outdoorsman.
After graduating from Kelso High School in 1957, Walt attended the University of Washington, graduating with an accounting degree in 1961. It was at his graduation party at the UW where Walt met his "Sheri," his future wife.
Sharon Marie Wells immediately caught Walt's very discerning eye. He bravely walked up to her, introduced himself and politely offered her his beer. Sharon smiled at him, then politely asked him to get her a cold one. They married one year later.
Employed as a certified public accountant at Peat, Marwick & Mitchell in Portland in the early 1960s, Walt soon decided a desk job was not for him. With support from his loving wife, they moved to Corvallis so Walt could attend Oregon State University, where he achieved an additional degree in marine biology.
As they started their family, Walt began his dream job as a North Coast fish and game biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Webers then moved to Seaside, into a house steps from the ocean.
Walt immersed himself in his work, family and community. Ever the entertainer, he led his family on great outdoor adventures: salmon fishing, clam digging, crabbing, vacationing at the family's Hood Canal cabin, father-and-son hunting trips, water-skiing excursions (wow, he was a patient teacher) and camping and road trips to interesting places.
A proud father, he was a big supporter of the Seaside Kids program, and coached his son's Little League teams. He rarely, if ever, missed his kids' extracurricular activities.
When Sheri began her running career in the late 1970s, Walt supportively rode his bike alongside her in his "Sheri's Coach" sweatshirt, and he often brought wildflowers to her from the forests he worked in.
In his community, Walt was the go-to guy when an abandoned seal pup, motherless fawn or other at-risk creature was discovered.
A generous teacher, he always had resources at the ready for anyone interested in learning about the wildlife habitats of the world. In fact, his kids recall him regularly reading the National Geographic to them as their bedtime story!
The Seaside School District honored Walt for his contributions to educational programs, which helped students better understand the Oregon Coast's local resources and management.
As an early advocate of recycling, he taught his family the difference one person could make, however small, by doing their part.
As a lifelong learner, Walt had a plethora of interests outside of hunting and fishing. His endeavors included scuba diving, water and snow skiing, Toastmasters, fly-tying, master gardening, winemaking, water color painting, cooking, wildlife art and excursions to Alaska and Eastern Oregon for fishing and hunting with his son and good friends.
Once the children were grown, Walt left his post on the Oregon Coast in 1988. He and Sheri relocated to the high desert of Bend, where he took on a dual position with the Deschutes National Forest in partnership with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
As a satisfying coda to his career, he was promoted to district fish and game biologist, Northern Coast Region, which brought Walt and Sheri back to the beautiful coast, settling in the quaint town of Chinook, Washington, on the Long Beach Peninsula. He retired in 1997.
Walt’s passionate commitment to and leadership in countless Northwest organizations that work to protect and restore wildlife habitats will be dearly missed. His advocacy for the rights of area hunters and fishermen was tireless.
Walt co-founded the North Coast Chapter of Ducks Unlimited in the 1980s, was a founding member of Rainland Flycasters Club and, in retirement, was the major driving force in the continuance of the Department of Fish and Wildlife's essential Salmonberry River winter steelhead spawning surveys.
Walt had the wisdom and foresight to continue the collection of this data, which was intrinsic in preserving the future health and spawning habitat of one of the last truly wild steelhead runs in a free-flowing river on the northern Oregon Coast.
Other organizations that he tirelessly donated his time, energy and resources to include the Native Fish Society, Necanicum Watershed Council, Oregon Trout, American Fisheries Society and Trout Unlimited.
Walt's immense circle of friends speaks to the value he placed on relationships. Rarely did he miss a Kelso High School reunion. He treasured new friendships just as much as those that were steadfast and decadeslong. He never failed to ask his kids about those dearest to them, as well.
Those closest to him will miss his crab cocktails, oysters on the half shell and his smoked duck and salmon hors d'oeuvres. Those lucky enough will also remember sipping a bourbon with him now and again.
Walt is survived and missed by his wife, Sharon; his three children, Lance Weber, Lisa (Paddy) Ryan and Tammy (Dan) Elwess; seven grandchildren, Sharon (Richard) Bracey, Bradley Weber, Jane, Maggie and Patrick Ryan, Meredith (Samuel) Marksberry and Shane Elwess; great-granddaughters, Kendra and Kaylynn; brother, John (Bev) Weber; and many much-loved cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws and friends.
In his memory, please take a long hike in the wilderness and thank him for his contributions toward saving it for future generations.
If you would like to honor him, please feel free to do so by making a contribution in his name to the North Coast Chapter of Ducks Unlimited using this link: bit.ly/NCDucks. The money collected will go toward DU youth programs.
A celebration to honor his well-lived life is planned to take place this summer.