Leslie “Les” Weiser was a family man — which applied to both his immediate family and his camp family.
Leslie “Les” Weiser was a family man — which applied to both his immediate family and his camp family. Weiser, longtime owner and director of Camp Kweebec, passed away Feb. 19.
“My dad was larger than life,” said Rachel Weiser-Weisman, one of Weiser’s three children. “Great big personality. He was unbelievably bright. Super-warm, fuzzy, down-to-earth kind of person.”
Growing up on the Main Line, Weiser — who was fondly called Uncle Les by many of his campers — thrived in all areas of his life. A graduate of Lower Merion High School, the University of Pennsylvania and of Temple University, he began his life’s work of positively influencing the lives of young people as a history teacher at Germantown and Lower Merion High Schools.
Outside of the classroom, he coached basketball at both the high school and collegiate levels, but perhaps most impressively, Les guided Lower Merion High School to three consecutive state titles in lacrosse, a sport that he had never played.
When he was around 25 years old, after summers attending and working in administrative roles at other camps such as Camp Sholom and Pinecrest, he saw an ad for a camp that was for sale. It turned out to be Camp Kweebec, which he had also attended as a camper when he was very young. After borrowing a little money from his mother and from his uncle, he bought the camp in 1970.
“It was a match made in heaven,” Weiser-Weisman said. “He loved it, he was good at it. He was very young, but he worked hard and loved it and really created an unbelievable legacy or Camp Kweebec community.”
Her family has a deep connection to the camp beyond just that Weiser owned it. He and his wife of 42 years, Dr. Madeleine Weiser, a pediatrician, met at the camp while she was working there.
“My mom was the athletic director, basically, and my dad was the owner and director and they went out — and that was that,” Weiser-Weisman said. “They really had the kind of marriage and relationship I feel like people envy because they just were each other’s everything.”
Since then, the two co-owned and co-directed the camp, a role into which Weiser-Weisman and her brother, Josh, have since stepped. They also all attended the camp as kids.
“It’s in our blood,” she said. “We learned from the best, and that’s how we’ll continue to run camp, as we’ve been doing.”
In his (probably very limited) spare time, he greatly enjoyed golfing, Weiser-Weisman said — though his wife was better and he knew it, she joked. But it was being around family that was important to him, which is one the big lessons he taught her.
“From a purely personal point of view, nothing to do with work, family is the most important,” she said. “It’s important to not just love each other but to be together. It’s the most important thing there is. That’s the most significant thing I learned from him and that’s what makes me miss him the most.”
Weiser’s life clearly affected the lives of others beyond his family — Weiser-Weisman estimated 500 people or more attended the funeral.
“I’m totally biased because I’m his kid,” she said. “He just really was larger than life and was unbelievably generous, very capable, very bright and he was just a really great person. My dad was generous to a fault. He gave because he could. I don’t know a lot of people like that.”
Leslie Weiser leaves behind his wife, Dr. Madeleine Weiser, brother David Weiser, his children, Rachel, Josh, Amy, Josh and Morgan, his two grandchildren Gabe and Jules, and thousands of adoring friends, campers, students and members of his Kweebec family.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation or Gift of Life.
Contact: [email protected]; 215-832-0740