God love him. What a life. Thanks to Deacon Jim Miles in the Diocese of Lansing for sending this along.
Louis Urban Weitzel, 99, passed away July 15, 2019. He was born on May 18, 1920, in Delphi, Indiana to John and Mary (Schmitter) Weitzel. Louis married the love of his life Kathleen McCarthy on March 14, 1943 in Casper, Wyoming. He served in the Canadian Royal Air Force and then transferred to the U.S. Air Force serving honorably during WWII as a B-24 Liberator pilot. He was stationed in Brownsville, Texas and would layover in London England. After his military service he worked for Ford Motor Co/Tractor Division in Troy, Michigan as a computer programmer for 32 years retiring in 1977.
Dedicated to his faith, in 1992 after his wife’s death, Lou became an ordained Catholic deacon with the Diosese of Lansing. He was a former member of St. Joseph Shrine of Brooklyn and St. Mary on the Lake of Manitou Beach. Deacon Lou a resident of Somerset Center since 1969 was a member of St. Rita Catholic Church and Knights of Columbus – St. Rita Chapter. He served graciously at the Jackson Interfaith Shelter for many years. Deacon Lou’s love of God and family, found him praying for others at all time.
Deacon Lou will be missed by his children, Thomas (Janice) Weitzel of Tecumseh, Kathy (Thomas) Hesse of Northville, and Kimberly Weitzel of Somerset Center, ten grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, wife Kathleen, two brothers Fr. Robert Weitzel and Fr. Louis Karry.
His parish website adds more detail, including the fact that he wanted to become a priest:
It’s true that Lou sought permission from Bishop Povish to become a priest. He wrote to Bishop Povish and offered to attend seminary at no cost to the Diocese, but his request was denied because the Bishop thought Lou was too old… well, the Bishop is resting in the bosom of Abraham… while our Deacon Lou is still here, cradled in the arms of all of us at St. Rita.
May we all have that kind of zeal for as long as we last.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
Nine years ago, I posted a story about Deacon Lou when he turned 90. The article proudly announced that he was the oldest active deacon in the United States:
Lou Weitzel piloted a B-24 bomber over Europe during World War II, helped Ford Motor Co. integrate its production in Canada, and now each Sunday he serves as a deacon for St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Clark Lake [Michigan].
At 90, Weitzel is the oldest active deacon serving in the Catholic Church in the United States, an achievement for which he was honored Sunday.
“He is a dedicated leader in whatever area it is,” said Tom Weitzel, his son. “With the family or during his time at Ford Motor Co., he always led by example.”
Shortly after that, I got a note:
I read your wonderful article and wanted to let you know that my Grandpa- Milton Opper is 95 and is an active Deacon in the Diocese of Toledo Ohio and is serving at St. Peter and Paul in Sandusky Ohio.
Who knew? If there are any other deacons still serving who are 100 or older, please let me know!