Dr. Robert J. Weiss, 71, died at his home on Tuesday, Nov. 24, in Warren, the community he had served more than 40 years as an eye surgeon. Born in Sharon, he lived in Pittsburgh until his family moved to Hamburgh, N.Y. during his adolescent years. He graduated from Canisius High School before attending the University of Rochester, where he earned a B.S. in Mathematics and was a record-setting varsity swimmer. He worked many summers as a life guard on Lake Erie, later rescuing a niece from the undertow at the Jersey Shore (thanks Uncle Bob.)
Dr. Weiss attended medical school at the University of Buffalo but was not sure what specialty in medicine he would practice. That changed when he reached the ophthalmology part of his training, which is when he encountered an ophthalmologist who he noted seemed to be the most satisfied with his life and enthusiastic about his work. Dr. Weiss completed a general medical internship at Millard Fillmore Hospital in Buffalo, which is where he met his wife, Mary. After earning his Doctorate of Medicine in 1975 he attended the Emory University Eye Center in Atlanta and finished his training in 1979.
While Dr. Weiss was offered opportunities to practice medicine in places like San Diego or Atlanta, he chose to return to his wife Mary’s hometown of Warren, where her grandparents had immigrated from Sweden in the early 20th century. Never a huge fan of big cities, he appreciated Warren’s small-town charm and loved being called “Doc.” He founded Seneca Eye Surgeons, Inc. in 1980 with friend and partner Dr. Paul O. Keverline, later adding offices in Jamestown, N.Y. and Bradford, Pa. Throughout his career he particularly looked forward to summer so he could enjoy the season at Chautauqua Institution. He and his wife spent 35 years vacationing and hosting friends and family at their home in the Institution where Dr. Weiss particularly enjoyed attending the morning lectures. He was always ready to pump up a bike tire, take someone out on the boat, encourage a new water skier, and pretend to be a muskee fish nibbling on young toes. Never one to shy away from a good discussion, his loved ones remember perhaps more than anything his generosity, never expecting a thing in return.
For four decades Dr. Weiss dedicated his life to caring for patients he would also call friends. It was not out of the ordinary for Dr. Weiss to be called in the middle of the night to tend to all manner of eye emergency, occasionally finding himself caring for farm animals and being paid in Amish quilts, something his wife never minded. He also weathered personal loss when Dr. Keverline, and later Dr. Keverline’s son, Andy, a young ophthalmologist who had joined the practice, were killed in tragic accidents a few years apart. Still, the practice continued, and Dr. Weiss worked full time as long as he could.
Dr. Weiss continued to practice until his retirement in 2019, celebrating his 40th anniversary in the practice of ophthalmology with both his family and his “Seneca family.” A tribute to his years of practice and a memorial to his partners, Drs. Paul and Andy Keverline, are located at the Warren General Hospital entrance on St. Clair Street.
Dr. Weiss is survived by his wife of 45 years, Mary Margaret Berglund Weiss; their children Karen Walcott, Carl Weiss, and Lauren Weiss; grandchildren Evelyn, Margaret, George, and Henry (Karen and Roger) and Robert and Catherine (Carl and Colleen); and too many (great) nieces and nephews to name. He is survived by siblings Patricia Keys of Pittsburgh, William Weiss (Ann) of Conn., and Margaret Gray (Jeffrey) of Conn.
In addition to his parents, Robert J. Weiss, Sr. and Mary Ellen (Eskay) Weiss, he was preceded in death by two sisters, Joan M. Weiss and Mary Ellen “Mimi” (Weiss) Trainer, as well as his much loved mother-in-law, Evelyn S. Berglund of Warren.
Friends will be received on Sunday, Nov. 29 at Peterson-Blick Funeral Home, 1003 Pennsylvania Avenue, Warren, from 3 to 6 p.m.
A private funeral for family and friends will be conducted at 11 am. on Monday, Nov. 30 at Oakland Cemetery with Fr. Matthew Scott, pastor at Trinity Episcopal Church, officiating.
The family requests any tributes or memorials may do so through Hospice of Warren County, 1 Main Street, Warren, Pa. 16365.