Frank Weihs, who taught English at TCC from 1970 until his retirement in 1992, passed Jan. 16, 2020. The TCC community is invited to attend his Celebration of Life, 1 p.m. Feb. 23 at Tacoma’s Weatherly Inn.
According to a profile published in the 1984 College Catalog, Weihs enjoyed helping students acquire one of the most useful tools for college, career and life – the ability to use the written word. In “Beginning Writing,” one of his favorite classes to teach, Weihs used a textbook he had written himself.
“I enjoy helping people find a way to use writing, helping them find ways that it applies to their lives,” Weihs is quoted as saying.
Weihs was also an early advocate for computers in the classroom, recognizing their potential to support educational attainment. In the mid-‘80s he organized a computer fair to help his fellow instructors learn how to incorporate computers into their classrooms.
Retired English faculty member Georgia McDade, who arrived at TCC the same year as Weihs, recalls their decades-long friendship as English Department colleagues:
“Frank and I were hired the same year, 1970. If I remember correctly, he was 37; I was 24. It was my first time teaching professionally. This was the time when no one had back-to-back classes, so most of us at some point would have lunch together in the back of Building 20 – or was it 17? Frank would tell me San Diego State stories. He had great stories about Angela Davis. We sometimes reviewed an ‘All in the Family’ episode. Because we were new faculty, we were not always familiar with some of the works being taught, so the two of us would occasionally discuss them.
The English Department, always the largest during my time at TCC, had to offer some classes at night. The farthest I had ever driven was the Seattle-to-Tacoma route the first day I taught at TCC. A bit afraid, I was willing to do my night-time classes. Before I could respond, Frank said, ‘I'll teach in Georgia's place.’ No one ever asked me to teach at night again.
Frank defined many terms for me. When a student whose name I won’t cite asked that Frank and I not receive tenure, Frank was the one who told me the definition of ‘tenure.’ His wife Jan told me how much he loved teaching—both of us would have preferred teaching more Lit. classes, but we knew how invaluable composition is, so we gave it our best and watched students steadily improve their writing skills.
TCC stories and conversations were regularly carried home. Jan said she was accustomed to Frank calling her Janet (Grimes), Carolyn (Simonson), or Georgia. She and I had a secret. Every so often she would call my office and ask if I could have lunch with Frank, said he was always in such a good mood after we had lunch. I always obliged. This act will always rank as one of my favorite love stories. She was always looking out for Frank; he always wanted to share everything with her. He and I e-mailed; he proofread one of my books. Once he moved to Weatherly and no longer joined the TCC retirees for lunch because he could not hear well, Gael Tower and I would visit him. The group dined with him at the Weatherly.
Frank Weihs joins an ever-increasing list of persons whose like I won't see again. And I shall miss him just as I have missed Jan.”