Irving B. Weber was Iowa City – through and through.
Born here on December 19, 1900, his father was a blacksmith and his mother, the first female president of the Iowa City school board. Educated in Iowa City, Weber graduated from City High (1918) and the University of Iowa (1922), where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business while also becoming Iowa’s first All-American swimmer!
A fourth generation Iowa Citian, Weber knew Johnson County and its history like the back of his hand. Though recognized today as Iowa City’s most famous historian, Weber spent most of his career in the milk and butter business, whole-selling dairy products throughout eastern Iowa and northern Illinois for Sidwell Dairy. In 1944, he founded the Quality Chekd Dairy Products Association, but over the years, it was his love for Iowa City that finally propelled him to begin writing about his beloved hometown when he retired in 1966.
Watch this 30-minute interview of Irving Weber – recorded by the Iowa City Public Library in 1989.
By January 1973, when Weber was 72, The Iowa City Press Citizen began publishing his stories on local history on a weekly basis. Over the next 25 years, under the banner Irving Weber’s Iowa City, our community’s best-known historian published over 800 of his columns, half of which were then reprinted in eight volumes published by the Iowa City Lions Club.
Known as a generous man indeed, Weber donated the proceeds from the sale of his books to the Lions Club’s sight and hearing conservation fund, raising over $60,000 for the cause.
Irving Weber was honored in 1994 – three years before his death in 1997 – by the naming of Iowa City’s newest elementary school after him.
On the school’s webpage we find these words…
Irving B. Weber was a role model, mentor, grandfather figure, and friend for the staff and children at Weber School during the first three years of the school. He joined the staff as we opened the school in 1994 and played a central role in the dedication and in all other key events over the next three years. His frequent visits to Weber always caused a flurry of excitement and joy. With his unassuming manner, inquiring mind, and unwavering courtesy, Irving Weber left his mark on our lives – our children, our parents and our staff. Weber Elementary’s dolphin mascot was chosen by students, parents, and the community not only for the admirable traits of the dolphin, but also because of Mr. Weber’s association with the Dolphin Swimming Fraternity, being the University of Iowa’s first Hall of Fame swimmer in 1922.
There is a magnificent bronze statue depicting Weber, located on Iowa Avenue in downtown Iowa City, appropriately very near where the University of Iowa’s first classroom (1855) – Mechanics Academy – first stood. The statue was donated by Steve Maxon and Doris Park in 2003, along with sponsors; Iowa City Host Noon Lions Club, Iowa City Public Art Program, Quality Chekd Dairies, and Friends of Irving Weber.
In 1996, Irving Weber carried the Olympic Torch when it passed through Iowa City. In one of the pictures above, his statue salutes RAGBRAI bicyclers as they head south on Iowa Avenue.
In his humble manner, Weber was often heard to say… “I’m just an old hometown boy who happens to have a good memory.“
Thank you, Irving B. Weber for all the memories you left behind!
Check out our list of Johnson County Historical Resources and our Iowa Historian Hall of Fame.
Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.
Review all of Irving Weber’s written material – thanks to The University of Iowa Digital Library
Irving Weber, Iowa City’s Weber Elementary School website
Tell Me Your Story – Irving Weber, Iowa City Public Library, 1989
Irving Weber – Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Iowa Alumni Association
Irving Weber’s Iowa City, Johnson County IAGenWeb Project
Irving Weber Obituary, Johnson County IAGenWeb Project
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