New Florence professor had a deep love of model railroads |
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New Florence professor had a deep love of model railroads

Patrick Varine
Tribune-Review file
Merwin Weed of New Florence operates his model trains on Monday, March 21, 2011.
Submitted photo/Lopatich Funeral Home
Merwin L. Weed, 82, of New Florence, died Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019.

When Merwin Weed built a train layout, he didn’t mess around — and there was no such thing as a miniature train layout.

“That was always a passion for him and his brother,” Bonnie Chovanec, of Blairsville, said of her father. “They shared a bedroom, and they built a train platform in there that my grandmother had to climb underneath to put their clothes away.”

As an adult, Mr. Weed once put a two-story addition on his house in order to have a train room.

“He set up a two-tiered O-gauge layout that could run 30 trains at once,” Chovanec said.

Merwin L. Weed of New Florence died Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. He was 82.

Mr. Weed was born Sept. 22, 1936, in Crafton, a son of the late Leland Merwin Weed and Helen (Busse) Weed.

He attended Geneva College and went on to earn a master’s degree in civil and electrical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.

While at Geneva College, he met his first wife, Catherine (Elliott) Weed. The two started out as close friends.

“My dad was dating a girl and one day she said, ‘I don’t think I’m the girl for you, but I think my friend Cathy Elliott is,’” Chovanec said.

After graduating, Mr. Weed got in contact with Elliott. They were married Dec. 20, 1961.

Mr. Weed went to become a professor of mechanical engineering with Penn State, having taught at both the State College and McKeesport campuses.

“He started an industrial engineering and technology program at the McKeesport campus,” said his son, Lee Weed of Great Bend. “When he retired, they decided they were going to stop offering it, so he saw that program all the way through.”

Mr. Weed conducted his own unofficial engineering class at home.

“He’d work on all kinds of things all the time,” Lee said. “And as soon as I was able, I would grab a screwdriver and try to help. He had some rental properties, and there was always something that needed fixing. I was his buddy, holding the flashlight or handing him tools.”

When Mr. Weed was indulging his passion for trains, Lee would help out as well.

“A couple times, Mom relented and let us take up the whole living room,” he said.

Mr. Weed was a member of the Ligonier Valley Railroad Association, the Fort Allen Antique Farm Equipment Association and Latrobe First Church of God, where he served as an elder and Sunday school teacher.

Mr. Weed did all this while being functionally blind, his daughter said.

“He hid his handicap so well that the surgeon at the hospital one time thought it was a typo on his chart,” Chovanec said. “He was very intelligent, and you recognized that immediately when you talked with him, and he really loved his family. He was so appreciative when we all got together.”

Mr. Weed is survived by his wife, Virginia A. (Kelley) Miller Weed, of Greensburg; daughter, Bonnie C. Chovanec and her husband, Jim, of Blairsville; son, Leland D. Weed and his wife, Tracy, of Great Bend, Pa.; foster daughter, Betty Cochran, of Dravosburg; three stepchildren; three sisters; a brother; five grandchildren; and five step-grandchildren.

A 2 p.m. funeral service will be held Saturday at Latrobe First Church of God, 616 Princeton St. Interment will be private.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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