The Patriarch of Weaver Angus Farm
Those who have known him for decades and those who meet him for the first time all agree Bob Weaver is one of the true country gentlemen of this era in American history. His compassion for his fellow man and the honor and grace with which he presents himself likely trace their roots to the Ann Street Mennonite Church where he met his wife, Virginia Garber. Now married for more than 54 years, they have raised five children and enjoy 14 grandchildren and one great grandchild. Bob and Virginia Weaver stem from humble country roots and together they have instilled family values and strong character in their family and those who come under their wide realm of influence. No one is too young or too old to merit the real courtesy Bob Weaver extends to everyone he comes in contact with and he truly is living proof of the old adage that "the harder you work, the luckier you get."
The Weaver family traces its roots to Michigan, and Bobs father and mother, Avery and Lena, migrated from there to Champaign County in Illinois as tenant farmers. The Weavers began their life in the "Land of Lincoln" on a small dairy farm near Fisher, Illinois, using draft horse teams to till the land. Bob Weaver, the sixth of seven children of Avery and Lena, developed his lifelong affection for driving a team on his daily journey to and from school. That early experience with horses would have a marked impact on Bobs later life.
Avery Weaver and his family eventually moved to Peoria, Illinois, a town along a bend in the Illinois River that is almost half way between Chicago and St. Louis. In the heart of the Corn Belt, the town descendant of Ft. Clark that was renamed Peoria in 1825 has become known around the world as the headquarters of the Caterpillar Corporation. The Weaver familys move to Peoria began with Avery Weavers renting of a hog and beef cattle farm from Murray Baker, who was at the time the Chairman of the Caterpillar Corporation. A second farm was leased from Mr. Baker and over the course of time, as Avery turned the farming operation over to his sons, Floyd and Bob, the Weaver family was able to buy those two original farms from the Baker family. A Weaver family legacy in the heartland had begun.
In 1935, Bob and Floyd pooled their money and borrowed an additional $600 to buy their first Angus female and an Angus chapter of the Weaver family legacy followed. Bob Weavers first recollection of exhibiting Angus cattle is in 1937. Just a few years later, the 1943 edition of Farm and Rural Interests, a popular farm publication at that time, headlined an issue with the success story of the two brothers who came to the Angus industry as 4-H members. The story chronicled the Weaver purchase of a bull for $350 in 1941 and the hard work and ingenuity that made him into a $2,000 bull in the annual Illinois Angus sale at Congerville, Illinois.
From Bob Weavers dream at 12 years of age to exhibit Angus cattle, Weaver Angus Farm has, over the course of the past six decades, grown into an internationally respected source of Angus genetics and Angus promotion. Weaver Angus Farm is the place where great things begin. The Weaver family hosted the very first Illinois Angus Field Day and they have hosted three more field days since then. Over the years they have donated heifers, semen, and their time to support both the Illinois Junior Angus Association and the National Junior Angus Association. As someone who started his Angus career as a junior exhibitor, Bob Weaver has deep convictions about the benefits that juniors derive from owning and competing with Angus cattle. The Weaver Angus Farm junior incentive program is among the most lucrative in the industry and Bob Weaver is always happy to provide financial assistance and incentives to young people.
As a native of Illinois, Bob Weaver grew up with a great appreciation of the annual International Livestock Exposition in Chicago. When the tradition was winding down there, his Weaver Angus Farm was among the first Angus exhibitors in 1974 at the show that became the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky. Weaver Angus Farm is the only Angus operation that has exhibited cattle at every North American International Livestock Exposition over the past 25 years. The only break in that continued tradition will come in 1999 as the Weaver farm manager, Dean Janssen, serves as the Angus judge of that prestigious event.
The list of Angus winners for Weaver Angus Farm in state and national competition is, without question, the longest and most impressive for any ongoing family operation over a period of more than six decades. As times have changed in the industry, Bob Weaver and his sons have responded to those changes and adapted their Angus operation to meet the needs of their customers and to fulfill the demands of competition. Weaver Angus Farm has owned and exhibited five National Western Grand Champion Bulls in the past three decades, the most recent in 1998. Bob Weaver enjoys seeing his family and their customers in the winners circle and he and Virginia are familiar faces at Angus events from coast to coast.
The success of Weaver Angus Farm is a reflection of the success that accompanies the efforts of Bob Weaver in everything he does. From a humble farm beginning, Bob Weaver built Weaver Enterprises, Inc. into a diversified and very successful family business that markets Kentucky Fried Chicken in more than twenty stores in three states. It speaks to the character of this great man that his affiliation with Kentucky Fried Chicken began with a "handshake" agreement between Bob Weaver and the late Colonel Harlan Sanders. Contracts and lawyers came much later after both the Weaver and Sanders enterprises had grown and expanded.Bob recently retired as president of the family corporation and he and his wife since June 3, 1945, Virginia, now devote their time to their grandchildren, their cattle, and their carriage collection of more than 25 rare and valuable pieces and their teams of Hackneys and Gelderlanders. Bob and his horses have compiled an international reputation and he derives great pride from the competition of his daughter, Karen, and his granddaughters, Ashley Weaver and Sarah Crouch. Bob Weaver has been a distinguished member of the Coaching Club of England since 1983 and the New York Coaching Club since 1991 and his daughter, Karen, was elected a member of the World Coaching Club in 1996, a "ladies only" driving club. Recognitions of this level are an indication of the respect that Bob Weaver commands in the Carriage Association and in 1998, he was elected an Honorary Life Director of that association after years of dedicated service to the organization and its other members.
Bob and Virginia Weaver have lived the American Dream and everyone who knows them shares the hope that they will be able to enjoy many more years of pleasure and gratification from their Angus cattle, their carriages and teams, and from the fine family they have raised
Compiled and written by Dick Beck with assistance from a splendid biography of Bob Weaver written by Ken Wheeling
for The Carriage Journal.