Weismeyer, Longtime Loma Linda University Spokesman, Dies at 67
Traveled world to tell of Adventist Church’s health outreach
BY DUSTIN JONES, Loma Linda University
Richard W. Weismeyer, longtime spokesman for the Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center (LLUAHSC), who met U.S. presidents and foreign heads of state, and traveled the world to report on the denomination’s health outreach, died January 12 following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 67 years old.
During more than 50 years of association with Loma Linda University, an institution of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Weismeyer wrote, edited, and guided others in chronicling stories of LLUAHSC for church members and the community.
As the school’s executive director of university relations, Weismeyer traveled to more than 50 countries, filing stories by telephone or postal mail in the early days from Africa, Asia, and Europe. While appropriately a “background” person, putting the university and its people in the spotlight, Weismeyer was widely respected by the local media, national publications, and his fellow Adventist communicators as a person of dedication, integrity, and warmth.
COMMUNICATION LEADER: Richard Weismeyer traveled to more than 50 countries while serving as executive director of LLU’s University Relations Department. [PHOTO: LLU]
His trips weren’t always safe: in 1974 and 1975 Weismeyer reported on the university’s overseas heart surgery team’s work in Saigon, Vietnam, following the pullout of U.S. troops; that team left eight weeks before the fall of the South Vietnamese government.
In 2003 Weismeyer accompanied Richard Hart, then chancellor of Loma Linda University, to war-torn Afghanistan two years after the U.S.-led coalition drove the Taliban from power. In 2008 Weismeyer was an embedded reporter with the U.S. Army 307th Medical Division, which offered dental services in Iraq. He returned to Afghanistan last year amid intense fighting to follow up the story of a war victim who had been a long-term patient at the university hospital.
Through his work Weismeyer met individuals from diverse walks of life, including then-sitting U.S. president Richard Nixon, former U.S. president George H. W. Bush, then-California governor and future U.S. president Ronald Reagan, as well as members of the U.S. Congress.
“Dick Weismeyer spent his entire career telling Loma Linda’s stories,” said Richard Hart, president of Loma Linda University. “He was a tireless and faithful photographer, traveler, editor, and manager. . . . We have lost a friend and colleague who will leave a huge void at this place.”
In all, Weismeyer served the organization for more than 50 years, beginning with his employment at Loma Linda Market in 1960. He often represented the university at world church events, including, most recently the fifty-ninth General Conference session in Atlanta, Georgia.
Ellen G. White, a pioneering cofounder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, encouraged the establishment of Loma Linda University, a move that would later be central to Weismeyer’s own life. He was born in the old Loma Linda Sanitarium on October 15, 1943, and earned his bachelor’s degree from La Sierra College (now La Sierra University). After graduation and completion of an internship in the Public Information Office (forerunner of the office he led for many years), Weismeyer was hired as a full-time employee at Loma Linda University in 1966.
He later returned to the campus of La Sierra University as a student, and in 2004 he earned a master’s degree in English. In recent years Weismeyer had studied for a doctorate at La Sierra’s School of Education.
“Dick Weismeyer was one of those individuals who quietly and without fanfare fulfilled his responsibilities with reliability, professional quality, dignity, and class,” said Lowell C. Cooper, a general vice president of the Adventist Church, who since 2001 has served as the chair of the LLUAHSC board of trustees.
Weismeyer won many awards from the university and the community, both for the communication work he produced, and also for the man he was. On Wednesday, January 12, the day he passed away, Weismeyer was named Citizen of the Year by the Loma Linda Chamber of Commerce.
His wife, Carol, two children, and a sister survive.
A memorial service was held Sunday, February 6, at the Loma Linda University church.
—with additional reporting by Adventist News Network and Adventist Review staff.