Columbus, OH — Orson Lester “Buck” Weaver, 91, of Harvard, Ill., formerly of Sharon, died Feb. 8, 2019, at his home.
Mr. Weaver was born Feb. 2, 1928, in Sharon, Wis., to Adam Lester and Josephine D. (Stoxen) Weaver.
“Buck” Weaver, as he was known to his harness racing friends and family, was a lifelong resident of the Sharon, Wis., area. A graduate of Sharon High School, he was drafted into the tail end of World War II, and eventually used the GI Bill to earn a bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate from UW-Whitewater.
He taught high school social studies and coached several different sports at Seymour High School in Seymour, Wis. After leaving Seymour and the teaching profession, he enjoyed running into former students on his travels around Wisconsin and attending class reunions. He continued to be a devoted fan of high school sports. For many years, he rarely missed a basketball game at Harvard High School, which his children attended.
Mr. Weaver eventually purchased a farm south of Sharon and installed a half-mile racetrack. For the next several decades, he broke, trained, and raced Standardbreds, for himself and a few other stables. Most notably, he broke yearlings for Merlyn Welch of Sharon and the Busse Stables of Kirkland, Ill. One of their most successful ventures together was Roxburgh Bob, one-time winner of the Maywood Pace. Later on, Mr. Weaver had horses with the Nolens of Harvard, Ill. He will always be remembered for the Jesters and Friscos, foals born and broke to race on his farm. His children, Sara and Wayne, grew up training and racing horses alongside their father, and continue in the sport to this day.
In addition to training and racing horses, Mr. Weaver was known throughout the Midwest as an announcer of harness races. Even though he was offered the chance to call races at the pari-mutuel level on multiple occasions, he preferred the county fair circuit, as it allowed him to be home with his wife and children. He called races primarily in Illinois and Wisconsin, but ventured into Michigan and Iowa several times. For almost 60 years, he was known as the voice of the Northern Illinois Colt Association, and also served on its board of directors. In addition to his well-known catchphrases, such as “Heeeere they come” and “There’s pacers coming from everywhere,” Mr. Weaver was known as a historian of Midwest harness racing and a great storyteller.
In acknowledgement of his ability to entertain grandstand crowds with lessons and stories, the Wisconsin Harness Horse Association inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2004.
On July 26, 1966, he married Lucille Schulz of Sharon. They were together for more than 50 years, until Lucy passed away in May 2017.
Mr. Weaver is survived by his children, Sara M. and Wayne L., as well as many cousins. In addition to his wife, he was preceded in death by his half-sister, Annetta Speiss.
A memorial visitation will be held on Saturday (Feb. 16) from 1-5 p.m., concluding with a short prayer and sharing of memories, at Toynton’s Walworth Funeral Home, 328 Kenosha St., Walworth, WI. For more information contact Toynton Funeral Home at 262.275.2171.