Former Wheeling police chief Ed Weith Jr. is being remembered as a family man and a diligent caretaker of his police officers.
Weith, 85, died Wednesday at his home in Wheeling. He served as chief twice during a law enforcement career that was not without some bumps in the road.
A proud Marine veteran having served during World War II, Weith was anxious to return to his hometown where his first jobs included a stint at Reichart Furniture store and Blaw Knox Foundry and Machine before joining the Wheeling Police Department in 1951.
Mozart resident Ed Weith Jr. was Wheeling’s longest running police chief to date.
At the time, Weith said he wanted the job security and pension that went along with being a police officer in a bustling city. However, he admitted in a previous news story that he "was scared to death" when they handed him "a badge, hat and box key."
It didn't take long for Weith to find his niche in the department. He hopped aboard a motorcycle and went on to head up the traffic division at a time when Wheeling saw huge volumes of traffic in and around the city. He said he "rode the wheel" from 1953 to 1971. He investigated hundreds of accidents during that time and lamented the loss of life in fatal crashes.
In 1971, Weith was appointed police chief, but a conflict with then city manager Charles Steele put him back among the rank and file of the department as a lieutenant under Chief Harry Bruno. Patience paid off and Weith was reappointed chief by the new city manager Richard A. Smith in 1976 and went on to gain the respect of the citizens and his peers.
He later successfully ran for Ohio County sheriff and served two terms before hanging up his holster.
Karen Grimes served as secretary to Weith, a position she maintains today with Chief Shawn Schwertfeger.
"I worked with Ed for 17 years. He was the senior officer when I started ... he did the scheduling and made the assignments. He was a great family man and always, always took care of his men," Grimes said.
Grimes said Weith was a good man to work with and for. He was the first chief to establish a deputy chief position, naming detective Chris Jebbia to the post.
Private funeral services and burial are being handled by Altmeyer Funeral Home, 1400 Eoff St., Wheeling. Weith is survived by two daughters, a son, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren and his longtime friend and companion.
His wife, Doris, preceded him in death in 1994.