By Garrett Dvorkin
Herald Staff Reporter
If you have ever driven from Titusville to Pleasantville, you may have noticed a man walking down the road with his trademark glasses and flat cap hat.
If you had the pleasure of giving him a ride, you immediately knew you were in the presence of someone special. During that ride you probably got a history lesson packed with accurate information, historical figures and places and a good story.
That man was David Weber, Pleasantville resident, area historian and author.
Titusville lost it’s historian this past week with Weber’s passing on Friday, March 26, at the Titusville Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center. Weber, who was born Nov. 30, 1956, died at the age of 64.
Weber learned his love of history while attending Titusville area schools. He graduated from Titusville High School in 1975 before continuing his education at Edinboro State College.
After coming back to the area, he dedicated his life to researching and documenting the history of Titusville and sharing that knowledge with all who had the opportunity to learn from him.
Through the years, Weber volunteered his time at the Titusville Historical Society, Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad (OC&T), Drake Well Museum and Park and the Titusville Chamber of Commerce.
He was a fixture in the community and always gave his time to better the area he knew so well. Weber loved walking to all of the organizations he volunteered with, getting rides from many as he didn’t drive.
Chris Fiely was someone who gave Weber many of those rides into town from Pleasantville. The pair worked together when Fiely was the President of the Titusville Historical Society and the On Board Education Supervisor for the OC&T Railroad. Weber worked as a tour guide.
Fiely said that after picking up Weber, “quite often, we’d get to talking.” Fiely said the pair would trade stories, although he admitted that Weber always knew more.
Fiely recalled the time that Weber told him about the first ever punter for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Titusville resident Ray Pesser, a friend of Fiely’s grandfather.
Fiely knew Weber as more than a historian. “He was someone who wanted what was best for the community,” he said. “He was so helpful to outside visitors too. He was able to utilize knowledge to connect tourists and strangers with our community.”
“The wealth of knowledge that he had, it is unmatched,” Fiely said. Fiely imagined someone coming up to Weber to ask him about green grass, and 45 minutes later they would leave knowing more about the historic lawns of Titusville than they would ever need to know.
Kathy Newsome worked with Weber at the historical society. She is a charter member of the organization and spent 20-25 years working with Weber.
Newsome said that he never missed a Titusville anniversary. She said she will always remember that he had an incredible memory. “He could recall things seemingly with no problem,” said Newsome.
Bob Archer is someone who knew Weber better than most. Archer said he worked with Weber for 25 years at various places in town and later helped him format some of his work for the OC&T Railroad.
While Weber was working at Drake Well Museum and Park, Archer worked as the Colonel Drake impersonator. He said that some still refer to him as “the colonel.”
Archer then worked with Weber for years at the OC&T Railroad, both as tour guides. The first time Archer ever rode an OC&T train he was stuck in Weber’s cabin to learn from the master.
As someone who knew so much, Archer said he referred to Weber as the “walking encyclopedia.” Archer said that Weber seemed to know more about your family history than your family did.
Archer said since the two both lived in Pleasantville, and frequently worked the same events, that they shared many car rides together “going up the hill.” Every car ride came with an education.
“He was programmed to educate,” said Archer. He always had an anecdote to add, and always a last thought to give.
Archer remembered when Drake Well would bring speakers to the auditoriums around town. Archer said that after the speaker finished, Weber would stand up and tell the speaker something that was left out. Archer always watched with a grin on his face as the crowd applauded Weber for his anecdotes.
Archer said that Weber’s passing is “a tremendous loss for the community.”
Archer said that some of Weber’s research has been used for the OC&T tour guide training manuals. Archer said that in typical Weber fashion, he turned in so much information he hasn’t gotten through it all yet.
Archer added that Weber was an even better man than historian. “He didn’t have a mean bone or thought in his entire body,” he said.
Many who talked about Weber mentioned that he rarely talked about himself, choosing instead to talk about history.
Archer recalled that during their car rides he would ask Weber personal questions only to get a reply, “that house across the street was built by ...”
To Archer, and many in the local area, Weber seemed to be on a mission to document and research the area he called home.
Through numerous books published, articles written, tours given and stories told — mission accomplished.
Dvorkin can be reached by email at Gdvorkin@titusvilleherald.com.