lowell weicker funeral
Friends and family of former Gov. Lowell Weicker pay their respects at Saint Barnabas Church in Greenwich. Courtesy of CT-N

During a Monday funeral service for former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker, Scot Weicker recalled seeing both sides of his father while the two were playing tennis during a family vacation.

The younger Weicker said his father, also a former U.S. Senator, was both fiercely competitive and incredibly caring. When Scot Weicker ruptured his Achilles tendon during a volley, his dad was still in a competitive mindset.

“He came over to the net and looked down to me and said ‘just so you know, we won the point,’” Scot said of his father, who died June 28 at the age of 92.

Lowell Weicker quickly pivoted though, realizing his son was injured.

“He was a man who would go to any length to help those in need, be it his son, a family member, or someone he never met before,” Weicker said. “It made no difference.”

Many family, friends, and former staffers shared similar memories of Weicker, saying those attributes defined his 30-year political career that included terms as Greenwich’s first selectman and a state representative in addition to the U.S. Senate and Connecticut governor. 

“The country would be better off today if there were more like him in a position of authority,” Gray Weicker said of his father, recalling comments from one of Weicker’s former colleagues.

Several speakers during the funeral at St. Barnabas Church in Greenwich recalled that Weicker always stood by his convictions, even if his stance was unpopular. He was also willing to go against his own party.

After two years as Greenwich’s first selectman and eight years as a state representative, Weicker served three terms in the U.S. Senate. He was the last Republican from Connecticut to serve in the chamber.

He wasn’t afraid to break ranks with fellow Republicans, even when that party member was the president.

He first gained national attention as a member of the Senate Watergate Committee, when he became the first Republican to call for then-President Richard Nixon to resign.

Weicker also occasionally found himself opposing President Ronald Regan, including on a proposed bill that would have given the president the ability to veto individual items in the budget. 

“Lowell never hesitated to be the first, or one of the first, in the United States Senate to step in and push back,” said former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, a friend who served alongside Weicker. 

Staffers said Weicker also fought hard when he believed in causes, including an arrest while he was protesting Apartheid outside the South African embassy.

They recalled how Weicker was an advocate for the marginalized, once fighting hard to secure funding for clinical trials of AZT, the first effective drug treatment for HIV, under Reagan.

“He was an advocate for those who did not have a voice and those who were marginalized,” said Stanley Twardy, who served as chief of staff when Weicker was governor.

But as competitive as Weicker was, Gov. Ned Lamont said his longtime friend was willing to change his mind. That was never more evident than when he led the implementation of the state income tax.

Weicker was opposed to the income tax when he ran for governor in 1990, winning election after forming A Connecticut Party. 

He changed his stance, though, after his staff convinced him there was no other way to balance the budget. At the time, Connecticut had the country’s highest budget deficit on a per-capita basis.

“When it came to governor, he was the right man at the right time to take on a state that was in a world of hurt,” Lamont said. 

Lamont also recalled that the 6-foot-6-inch Weicker “had a Teddy Roosevelt fearlessness,” even insisting on using the main entrance at the Capitol when more than 40,000 protestors gathered on the grounds.

But for all the political accomplishments, Weicker’s sons said they will always remember the personal side of the man they affectionately called “Pop.”

Gary Weicker said he thought his dad would live forever.

“He had a disdain for water, he drank diet Coke and bourbon — not together. Ate pound cake, cheesecake, or rum cake for breakfast and lived to 92,” he said. “Truly miraculous.”

He fondly remembered bringing his own children to Weicker’s house for Christmas Eve, when Weicker was always “holding court and giving out gifts” to his grandkids.

Scot Weicker, too, said his father always loved doing things for his grandchild. Weicker woke up every morning to make pancakes when one of his granddaughters lived with him, earning the nickname “Pancake King.”

He helped a grandson become a certified scuba diver at just 10 years old.

Scot Weicker also recalled the time Lowell spoke at granddaughter Amanda’s graduation from George Washington University.

“For Amanda, it was totally frightening and overwhelming, because she was on the mainstage and had to speak,” Scot Weicker said. “For Pop, he thrived, as he loved being in front of as many people as possible.”

Following Monday’s service, Lowell Weicker was to be transported to Putnam Cemetery in Greenwich for interment.