In memory: Joseph L. Weitz

Joseph L. “Joe” Weitz, 93, died Wednesday, July 22, in Fort Collins. Survivors include his wife, Jean C. Weitz; their daughter Sally Weitz-Michie (Rex Michie) of New Braunfels, Texas; their son, Leonard Weitz (Maureen) of Fort Collins; and their daughter Phoebe Weitz of Fort Collins; as well as their grandson, Michael Weitz (Leila) of Denver; nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews and cousins. His parents, Leonard and Marie Weitz, his brother, John Weitz, and his granddaughter, Valerie Weitz, preceded him in death.weitz obit

Joe was born June 2, 1922, in Lakewood, Ohio. He attended Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio, where he was captain of the swim team. During the summer of 1939 Joe went to Germany as an exchange student. He enlisted in the Army Air Force and received an honorable discharge in 1943. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1944 at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. Joe was also a member of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. In 1946 he received a master of science degree from Yale University, from which he earned a PhD in 1954. He did his doctoral field studies in Newfoundland. With J.D. Love and R.K. Hose, J.L. Weitz co-authored the 1954 geologic map of Wyoming.

Joe married Jean Corthell of Laramie, Wyoming, in December, 1949, where the two had met while he was working with the US Geological Survey. He joined his father’s company, Independent Explosives Company in Pennsylvania, as assistant to the president, from 1955 to 1958; then from 1958 to 1960 he taught at his alma mater, Wesleyan University. The family came to the Fort Collins area in 1960 when he took a position as professor of geology at Colorado State University, retiring in 1983.

He spent a year as an associate professor at Hanover College in Indiana in 1961-62. From 1967 to 1969 he served as director of the Earth Science Curriculum Project, which was under the aegis of the National Science Foundation. He was a fellow of the Geological Society of America, a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and professor of geology one summer at CSU’s Pingree Park campus. He also served a term as president of the southwest section of the National Association of Geology Teachers.

A member of the American Geological Institute, he edited the Journal of Geological Education for a time. He authored several publications for the US Geological Survey. His book, A Definitive Study of Your Future in Geology, which begins with the sentence, “It is likely that the first person on the moon will be a geologist,” was published in 1966.

Joe did significant summer field work for US Geological Survey in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Connecticut, Colorado and Switzerland.
The Weitzes lived in Timnath for a number of years before relocating to a smaller home in Fort Collins. While in Timnath Joe was a member of the volunteer fire department, which participated in fighting the Old Main fire in May, 1970. Jean and Joe have spent the last two years of Joe’s life at The Worthington in Fort Collins.

After retirement, Jean and Joe traveled frequently with the Friendship Force of Northern Colorado, a world-wide foreign exchange program. Joe was also active in the Front Range Forum, an educational program through the Fort Collins Senior Center. He and Jean helped establish the organization more than 20 years ago, and Joe both participated in and facilitated classes. Joe volunteered at the former Fort Collins Museum, arranging and cataloging its mineral collection.

Distilling a long, productive life to a few hundred words barely touches the surface of the man who excelled professionally, lived richly, had a lively sense of humor, and was loved and respected by family and friends. Those who knew him are invited to share their personal memories and stories on this site. If desired, memorial contributions may be made to AmeriCares at 88 Hamilton Ave., Stamford, CT USA 06902 or 1-800-486-HELP (4357) or

A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, August 23rd, at the Fort Collins Senior Center, 1200 Raintree Drive, Fort Collins.