Goodbye to a friend

To the Patrons of: Angry Wade's 222 Smith St. Brooklyn, ND 11231 Hi folks, Let me introduce myself. I was a friend of George Weber's. I bet you've heard that sentence an awful lot in the past days. If you knew George, you were his friend. It's a ...

To the Patrons of:

Angry Wade's

222 Smith St.

Brooklyn, ND 11231

Hi folks,


Let me introduce myself. I was a friend of George Weber's. I bet you've heard that sentence an awful lot in the past days. If you knew George, you were his friend.

It's a helluva thing that happened. I haven't been quite myself since I heard.

My wife, Julie, was up early with the kids Monday morning, getting them ready for school, when she heard the broadcast. She'd heard me talk about George -- we worked together at KIMN in Denver, shared some laughs and a few drinks, and I suppose she knew from the way I talked, that George was a really good guy.

But, you all know that.

The thing is, Julie couldn't quite convince herself she'd heard the news right or she remembered his name right. Funny how the mind works. You desperately want to be wrong about something like this. She shook me awake gently, gave me the news, and the first words from my mouth that Monday morning were, "Oh, no."

The last time I talked to George, he couldn't stop talking about you guys -- the folks at Angry Wade's and the other folks in your neighborhood. In the days since George's death, I've learned more about this place George loved so much. Reporters described the bar, the patrons, and the way you set up a drink for George at his favorite spot at the bar in his memory after he died. That's a beautiful thing -- a holy thing. I wish I could have been there.

I've been reading your remembrances in the news stories. About what a common touch George had, despite being so well known for his work at WABC.

I can imagine George grilling chicken on the sidewalk with his neighbors during the power outage. I see him leaning over the grill in that curious hunched-up way, peaking over his shoulder with a wisecrack.


I have a few stories, too. There was the time he went off on a rant about the poor drive-thru service he had received while heading to a big fire. Not only did it take forever, they got the order wrong. And he was late to the fire. When he got back to the radio station, he was steaming.

"Put me on the air," he said. I knew I shouldn't, but I just had to hear what George had to say. Unfortunately, someone important at that fast food franchise heard it, too, and it cost -- temporarily, at least -- the station a $100,000 account. George and I both got called into the program director's office, a guy ill-suited for the job because by his own admission he didn't know what was funny. I assured him what George had said was funny. So, we didn't get fired.

I needn't tell you George looked at life from an angle that mathematically cannot be calculated. He once stumped wisecracking Milton Berle by asking him if he could be a tree, what kind of tree would he be? Berle, not a noted existentionalist, stomped off down the red carpet muttering to himself. George played the tape for me over and over, quite pleased with himself.

When multinational Citibank set up headquarters in South Dakota because of the favorable business climate, George was fascinated, so he convinced his Denver station to fund an investigative report. "Well, if you get near Frederick, S.D., stop in and see my parents," I told him. It's the kind of thing everyone says but no one really does.

He must have driven a hundred miles out of his way to do so, but he arrived in my hometown -- population 400 -- at lunchtime. My mom is an amazing cook, but that day, of all days, they were eating the humblest of meals, Campbell's tomato soup.

I had to call Mom after I got the bad news and we talked about his visit that day. Mom was still mortified about the tomato soup. "Mom," I said, "George was absolutely charmed by it." George sat at that small table in that small kitchen with a bowl of soup and saw real beauty in the experience. He mentioned it more than once.

I told Mom about what was in the papers. About a secret side of George I never knew. A messy thing, life. A messy thing, death. She spoke to me wisely as only a mother can. "Don't let any of that change the way you remember your friend."

It could never happen. I heard what was to be one of his last ABC news broadcasts. I turned up the radio and shushed the kids. "That's my old friend, George," I told them with pride.


I'm including a few dollars. Set up a Wild Turkey with a Coke chaser at George's spot. Buy some drinks for his friends and put the rest in the tip jar.

When I get to Brooklyn I plan to stop in myself.

A friend,

Tony Bender

-- George Weber, 47, an ABC radio newsman, was stabbed to death on March 20 in what police believe was an Internet date gone badly. A 16-year-old youth is in custody. Weber was well known in New York for his 9/11 reporting and work with Mayor Bloomberg on a radio show.

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