Richard Paul Weppner of Hamburg, a retired steelworker and devoted churchman, died Monday in Sisters Hospital after a lengthy illness. He was 75.
Born in Lackawanna into a family that then ran the local Pepsi-Cola bottling company, he was a graduate of Hamburg High School and served in the Army in Europe during the Korean War.
He worked at Bethlehem Steel Corp. as a scarfer repairman, removing impurities from steel. He retired in the early 1980s and worked for several years for WNED in its old Barton Street studios, where he was known for his bright smile.
Active in St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Athol Springs, where he was a daily acolyte, Mr. Weppner served as a Eucharistic minister, often ministering to the sick, and participated in many funerals.
He was a past president of the Holy Name Society, receiving the Ambassador of Mary Award and was a Catholic Charities worker and active in the Blue Army. He also played St. Nicholas and St. Valentine for Sisters of Charity events.
As a young man, he piloted his uncle's hydroplane in boat races in the Niagara River off Niawanda Park, setting several speed records, and ran his own smaller racing boat for several years.
Surviving are his wife of 53 years, the former Sheila Rochna; a son, Andrew; a daughter, Rebecca; and two sisters, Mary Lou Werner and Dorothy Herbst.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Thursday in St. Francis of Assisi Church, St. Francis Drive, Athol Springs.