Denver Western wear maker dies at age 107
The Associated Press
Summit County, CO Colorado
DENVER ” Jack A. Weil, founder of a celebrated Western wear company whose shirts were favored by movie actors and rock stars, died Wednesday. He was 107.
Weil died at home surrounded by family, said Steve Weil, his grandson. Steve Weil is president of Rockmount Ranch Wear, which his grandfather started in 1946 in downtown Denver.
“He reached anyone who loved the West one shirt at a time,” the grandson said.
Weil, known as “Papa Jack,” was a Denver icon. When he turned 100, the city changed the name of Wazee Street in front of his store to “Jack A. Weil Way.”
Gov. Bill Ritter called him a Colorado legend and a business pioneer.
“Colorado will miss him dearly,” Ritter said in a written statement.
Weil’s shirts have been worn in movies by Elvis Presley, Clark Gable and Heath Ledger. Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton also sported the shirts.
Rockmount designed shirts for Colorado’s House delegation for the Democratic National Convention in Denver later this month.
Steve Weil said his grandfather was the first to design Western shirts with snap buttons and also created sawtooth-pattern pockets.
Jack Weil remained chief executive officer of Rockmount and went to work daily until a few days before his death, his grandson said. He was believed to be the oldest CEO in the world.
“He does what he likes and he loves what he does,” Steve Weil said in an interview this summer.
He was born March 28, 1901, in Evansville, Ind. He learned apparel manufacturing while working at an overalls factory during World War II.
He married Beatrice Baum in 1926. They had two children and were married for 64 years until her death.
The Weils moved to Denver in 1928 so Jack Weil could open an office for his employer at the time. He launched his own company 18 years later.
Rockmount was a wholesale-only business for 55 years but opened a retail outlet after Denver lost many of its mainstay stores, his grandson said.
Weil believed in giving small businesses the same wholesale price he gave big retailers, Steve Weil said, and insisted on making his clothing in the United States instead of using lower-price workers in other countries.
“I never wanted to be the richest man in the cemetery,” he told his grandson.
His son, Jack B. Weil, died in January after helping run the family business for 54 years. His daughter, Jane Romberg, lives in Steamboat Springs.
Besides Steve Weil, survivors include four other grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
A memorial is planned Sunday.
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