“We felt we just really wanted to honor him and keep his memory alive through a scholarship foundation in his name, and I am a former band member and a number of my friends are in bands, so we just thought it would be fitting that we got together kind of a musical celebration … to honor his life,” Hinderliter said in a phone interview with your Catholic Herald, explaining that Weinberger was always supportive of the Milwaukee music scene, and of his friends in bands.
Event features local bands
The event, which costs $10 per person, was planned in two parts: an intimate gathering with close friends, family and all six of Weinberger’s older sisters, followed by a concert open to the public beginning at 8:30 p.m. at Club Garibaldi, 2501 S. Superior St., Milwaukee, featuring several bands including Wooldridge Brothers, Liv Mueller and Friends, and Longacre, to name a few, that will play until midnight.
“It’s just really to honor our great friend Scott and if we can raise some money to help other kids pursue higher education and do that in his honor for the years to come, that would make us feel really happy,” Hinderliter said, explaining that the event is for even those who didn’t know Weinberger, because he touched so many lives in Milwaukee that “they’ll probably run into someone they know there anyway.”
Weinberger, who, like his sisters, attended grade school and high school in Oakfield, earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Marquette University, where he spent much of his time in what former fellow journalism student and friend Laura Marran said was called “the basement” at Johnston Hall. The basement was where magazine, newspaper and yearbook staffs and photographers spent many late nights and became a “pretty close-knit group,” according to Marran.
“He ended up being my husband’s college roommate, but I knew him before that,” Marran said of Weinberger, who was a freelance writer and regular contributor to Milwaukee Magazine. “He just was a really good writer, a creative guy.”
She also said that as a Marquette student, Weinberger wasn’t afraid to tackle cutting edge issues.
“I am a very proud and happy Marquette alum, but as you can imagine Marquette in the ‘80s, maybe we didn’t have a lot of freedom to tackle some of the tougher issues, and he did that in a tasteful way and wasn’t afraid to branch out,” said Marran, who worked mostly as a copy editor for the newspaper, but dabbled in magazine writing when Weinberger, editor of the Marquette Journal, allowed her to write about music.
Laid back, yet tenacious
Weinberger’s devotion to the magazine was shared by fellow students, including Marran. “I could tell he was always really excited about it and I think we all had that in common where we really all just loved working for the publications at Marquette,” she said.
While Marran left her journalism career after 12 years to be home with her children, she said Weinberger stuck with it.
“I think that while he seemed personally to be just really mellow, laid back, easy going – to make it as a freelancer, you have to be tenacious,” Marran said of Weinberger who she and her husband saw at every Marquette reunion and would run into at various music events like Summerfest. “You have to really be a go-getter and he somehow was able to make it as a freelancer all these years and I really admire that.”
Weinberger’s ‘little secret’
Barb Wesson, a Nia technique fitness instructor at CORE/El Centro in downtown Milwaukee, knew a different side of Weinberger – a side that she referred to as his “little secret.” For about the last four years of his life, Weinberger participated in Wesson’s Nia classes, an expressive creative dance/fitness program created from a combination of nine individual movement forms.
“As in most fitness classes, men are quite rare – less than 10 percent of men come to exercise classes – so Scott was kind of an anomaly and he stood in the same place and came on the same classes every week and he was just very committed and it was awesome,” said Wesson, who still misses his presence where he stood “back and to my right.”
“We never talked about hardships or anything like that, but he was always pleasant to be around,” Wesson said. “I enjoyed him immensely in class. I still miss him, so we still talk about him – that guy that stood right there.”
When Weinberger died, Wesson dedicated three classes in his honor in a way that matched the dry, sarcastic sense of humor she got to know from the three classes a week he attended during the winter months.
“I danced a routine that I knew he liked best, because it was the one that he would suggest if I asked anyone what they wanted and it was also the one that had no free dance in it,” Wesson said, explaining that Weinberger appreciated structured routines. “…I danced one that I knew he only sort of liked, and then the third class I danced everything that I knew he hated and I know he appreciated that.”
Remembered for humor, compassion
Michelle Weinberger-Burns, 57, Weinberger’s third oldest sister, and a member of St. Mary Magdalene Parish, Waupaca, in the Green Bay Diocese, said her baby brother’s sense of humor was exemplified in his Halloween costumes, like the year he dressed up as the “grim sweeper” and carried a broom. But the size of her little brother’s heart is what she remembers most.
“If anybody was sick, he did a lot of research because he did writing for the Medical College of Wisconsin, and he would oftentimes help us with questions if we had medical needs or something, so that we knew what we were going to be involved with … working with our doctors,” Weinberger-Burns said of her brother, who was baptized and received holy Communion at what used to be called St. James Parish in Oakfield, now Sons of Zebedee, Byron, where growing up Weinberger-Burns said their family regularly attended Sunday Mass.
“He was also the reminder – he kept a calendar and sent the most wonderful cards to everybody always, even to nieces and nephews and I know when he passed away that was one of the things some of the kids had said – the nieces and nephews – how much they were going to miss the wonderful cards he found for everybody,” Weinberger-Burns said, adding that she is trying to continue to send cards to the people she’s familiar with who are listed in his “birthday book.”
“He grew into such a wonderful young man who was so courteous, had such a sense of humor,” Weinberger-Burns said. “He was so intelligent. He actually tried to take care of all of us, particularly after my parents died,” and when her husband died. “Scott always stayed connected with me, called all the time to make sure I was all right and that I wasn’t alone,” which Weinberger-Burns said was similar to the rest of her family, but because Scott was single and lived close, they were able to celebrate birthdays together and shared interests in traveling, restaurants, politics and books.
Was everybody’s best friend
And Weinberger touched people’s lives in ways that Weinberger-Burns never knew. “People have told me stories – there was a woman who had three children and after Scott died, she e-mailed me and she told me that when her daughter at the age of 2 had to have open-heart surgery, he sat at the hospital with her and kept her company because her husband wasn’t able to be with her.”
Friends and family who will attend “ScottFest” are looking forward to learning of the many other ways that Weinberger touched lives through the stories people share.
“What was really touching to all of us at his memorial service,” Weinberger-Burns said, “was that so many people got up and said they thought they were his best friend, and they all felt that way, and the next one would get up and say, ‘I thought it was just me he treated that way, that I was his best friend,’ but he treated people so well, so everybody felt so special because of him.”
The concert will be held on Weinberger’s birthday. Weinberger’s sisters hope to place a bench to honor him under the tree they planted in Acorn Park, in Oakfield, to commemorate their parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. And the remaining siblings will go to Mass together at 11 a.m., Sunday, April 18, at St. Mary Magdalene Parish, Waupaca, celebrated in memory of both parents and Weinberger.
His memory lives
While Weinberger-Burns choked up as she said she misses her brother’s phone calls just to talk, her tears are bittersweet.
“It’s good, I mean, I love remembering him and that’s why this concert’s been so important to me,” she said. “Some days it’s very hard and I have to cry and other days I think this may be one of the last things that I will be able to do for him and it really gives me strength then.”