I received the most depressing of news this week. A man who lived bigger than life, had a faith that reached to the corners of the heavens and completely loved all he met, joined his Heavenly Father yesterday.
Louie Weber was a gregarious, spirit-filled bear of a man who just cared about people, and he lived that ‘til the day he died as a minister in Ohio.
He also had a direct line to God…and I know this from personal experience. Out of the blue I would get a phone call during difficult or challenging times, and hear Louie’s soft, lyrical voice, “Hey Thomas, the Lord just put your name on my heart so I’m calling to pray for you…” And then he’d pray, loudly and with confidence.
A voicemail he left me March 31st, “Hey Thomas calling to wish you a happy Easter. Easter is the best holiday because we win! Death could not hold Him down.”
I am sad for his family and so many that he touched and cared for with his direct daily prayer line to God.
I first met Louie when I interviewed him and Danny Sims for a feature story in our student newspaper, the Optimist at Abilene Christian University.
Here is that story, and the beginning of a life long friendship.
God bless you, Louie Weber.
Smiling Like Jesus Might
Originally published in the ACU Optimist on February 20, 1987 (Vol. 74, No. 40)
His enormous laugh begins in his large stomach and bellows from his rotund chest. His cheeks shake as he laughs. Then they curl, along with his lips, into a smile – a big, heart-warming smile.
And it’s obvious that Louie Weber, all 6-3, 350-plus pounds of him, is enjoying life and sharing it with those around him.
“He’s got such a good nature, you can’t stay negative around him,” says one of Louie’s closest friends, Dwight Adkins. “He’s one of the most up-people I know. He makes it a point to always be up!”
Dwight recalls a time Louie came over to the cage, where Dwight works in the Gibson Health Physical Education Center. Louie brought a cold drink for Dwight , himself and a co-worker in the cage whom Louie had never met. Dwight said Louie knew someone else had to be working in the cage with him, so he brought another drink along just in case.
“He thinks of others,” says Dwight. He said Louie wants to “make people feel good about themselves.”
But Louie, a graduate assistant in the Human Communication Division, hasn’t always been interested in making people feel good about themselves.
As a high school student in Ohio, he made it a point to be a pain – especially to one biblical literature teacher. He attended a secular high school, but the school principal’s Christian influence overflowed into the school’s academics. The literature teacher, whom Louie considered “a crazy Bible thumper,” would often find Playboy pin-ups rolled up inside the projector screens and fires in her garbage cans.
Louie takes the credit for her misfortunes and for other mischief as well.
A youth minister from a local congregation was speaking at his high school one day. Louie selected a seat on the front row and directly in front of the speaker’s podium. Throughout the entire presentation Louie scratched his forehead and with his middle finger, passing along a non-verbal message to the youth minister.
Ironically, this led Louie to Christ.
Louie and the minister, Jeff Connar, became good friends, but Louie was abusive and crusty toward him; “every other word was the ‘F’ word” says Louie. He said he was impressed that this youth minister was not offended by his obvious attitude problem; “he didn’t let it get to him.”
Jeff, now a full-time youth minister for a congregation in Lancaster, Ohio, said Louie “was just a good ole boy waiting for somebody to bring him to the lord.”
Jeff said that when he first visited Wauseon High School he was looking for someone like Louie, someone all the other students looked up to and respected. “He was just a real jovial, fun-loving type of guy,” Connar said. “We hit off from the start.”
Jeff baptized Louie June 21, 1981, right after graduation. Louie squatted down and Jeff lowered him, face first, into the water. Jeff said he wasn’t sure he could lift Louie back up.
But Louie’s fervent acceptance of Christ was enough to land him on the dry ground running hard for the Lord. “Within 10 weeks he brought between nine and 11 of his friends to the Lord,” said Jeff. “It was like a whole new life for Louie.”
Before Louie began attending the youth programs conducted by Jeff, the regular turnout was about 12 to 15 kids; after Louie was baptized the turnout grew to about 40 kids a week “because Louie had invited them,” said Jeff.
Soon after graduation from high school Jeff asked him to make a difficult decision. “He said, ‘I really want you to do something for me, Lou,” Louie recalls. Jeff wanted him to go to Kentucky Christian College and forgo a position on the Bowling Green State University wrestling team.
Jeff said he told Louie that Bowling Green was “nothing but a party school” and that Louie would be back in the same environment as high school. He just wanted Louie to consider KCC and least check it out.
Louie said he went to Kentucky Christian with the intention of staying for about two weeks, to satisfy Jeff, and then to transfer to Bowling Green before the fall session began.
But an amazing thing happened. He liked KCC.
“It was neat,” Louie said. “It had friendly people. For the first time in my life I felt led, but at that time I didn’t know what that meant.” For Louie it meant being led to his wife, Robyn.
Louie’s size preceded his meeting Robyn.
“The first time I heard there was this big guy on campus I saw two girls come walking into the dorm in a pair of pants,” says Louie’s wife and best friend.
Although Robyn would become Louie’s wife almost four years later, the two didn’t exactly have a sparkling relationship at the start. “I couldn’t stand him,” Robyn says. “I thought he was rude and mean.”
She dated one of Louie’s friends and when she’s come to the dorm’s lobby to visit, Louie would make his presence known. “He wore leather shoes and no socks,” Robyn says, adding that Louie would take his shoes off and prop them on the coffee table in front of her and her boyfriend. “He stunk.”
The two did not like each other for the better part of a year. Robyn began dating another of Louie’s friends – his roommate – and Louie went about enjoying life at college.
During one particular lunch hour, Louie enjoyed college a bit more that anyone else could. He accepted a pizza-eating challenge from another big man on campus. Louie arrived at the pizza parlor just after noon and left in time for his 1 o’clock class.
In less than an hour he managed to eat 38 pieces of pizza and down two pitchers of cola. The legend of Louie’s pizza eating extravaganza has multiplied the magnitude of his pizza eating feat. “Now, every time I go back the number has grown. Last time it was 60.”
Louie’s ability to eat enormous amounts of food earned him his nickname. His given names is Robert A. Weber, but as a boy his older brother, John, said he ate like a horse. So John began calling him “Bob-a-Louie” after Huckleberry Hound’s horse. The name stuck.
Bob-a-Louie became Bob-a-Lou and then, by his college years, just Louie. It had become Louie by the time college’s serious side entered his life. Louie’s roommate, and Robyn’s boyfriend, got mixed up in drugs. Their concern for their mutual friend brought them together.
“Right after that we became best friends,” says Robyn. The friend relationship lasted about a year before they began dating. During the Christmas break of 1982 Louie told Robyn that he had stronger feelings than just friendship. They were married June 15, 1985.
“You pretty well took up all of my time at school,” Louie says to his wife.
“I couldn’t help it, you wouldn’t leave me alone,” she shoots back. “He was the only one my mother liked.
“That shows you what yo-yos she dated,” he says.
The first major decision of their married life was to come to ACU, says Louie.
“It was the best move of our life together,” Louie said. “We really consulted the Lord and he has opened every door.”
One door the Lord opened for Louie led to his friendship with Danny Sims. The two share a desk, and a wall, in the graduate assistant office on the second floor of the Don Morris Center.
The desk is cluttered with papers and coffee cups and book. The wall is a collage of everything is representative of their life at ACU. And each piece is signed, “To Louie and Danny, you guys are great!” by the creator of the piece or the subject of the piece.
“It’s our corner,” said Danny. It’s kind of a cornucopia of graduate assistantship and encumbers both the crazy aspects of life and the serious.”
And Louie is both crazy and serious. But his Christianity he takes seriously. Jeff said Louie was a natural to work for the Lord. “The Lord had a call on his life,” he said.
Now Louie identifies that calling as “teaching and preaching.” He intends to begin preaching and working toward his doctorate after graduation in May. But he has not decided where he’ll begin his work.
“Right now the future’s kind of up in the air,” Louie says. “I don’t know what the Lord wants for me. He’s trying to teach me patience right now, that’s for sure.”
He is certain his doctoral work will not be at ACU, so he’ll be leaving in May.
“That’s gonna be a real bummer,” says Dwight. “He’s really been good for me. It’s gonna hurt bad.”
Mike Lewis, director of the Human Communication Division, said, “Louie will leave a hole several people big” in the graduate assistants office.
Being a graduate assistant and teaching introductory level speech classes has been an invaluable experience says Louie. “It gives me a chance to interact with a lot of people,” he said.
Lewis said Louie’s ability to interact with people is one of his biggest assets. “He can talk to anyone,” Lewis says. “Louie never met a person he couldn’t talk to.”
Danny said Louie’s open personality sometimes catches people off guard. “For some it takes a while to figure out he’s not all joke,” Danny said. “His personality is bigger than he is. From the moment you meet Louie there’s a realness about him, an honesty and depth of understanding. What he’s an example of is somebody who really knows God, knows people and is spirit led. He’s not scared to be all of that and still have fun.”
Through the fun Louie has impacted the lives of almost everyone with whom he has come in contact, but those he has met have had an impact on him as well.
“I’ve learned more about people that I have at any other time in my life,” Louie says of his two years at ACU. “I’ve learned to affect people in a positive way by setting a good Christian example.”
Louie says some people may see him as unspiritual or immature because he tends to not be serious. But he says he sees himself as having a different role in Christianity.
“The thing I want to show people about Christ is that Jesus had a smile on his face a lot of the time.”