Notices sorted by graduation date.

David W. Weiss
Feb. 26, 1928—Dec. 18, 2017

Drama chair built legacy, guided students

David W. Weiss, longtime professor and chair of the University’s drama department, died Dec. 18, 2017.

David W. WeissCourtesy Photo

A Wisconsin native, Weiss earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He joined the UVA faculty in 1954 and served for 37 years, including 16 as department chair.

At the helm during a significant period for the department, Weiss initiated several changes that have made for a visible legacy on Grounds, including the construction of the Drama Building on Culbreth Road.

“That building wouldn’t be standing there without David’s tenaciousness,” says Professor Emeritus LaVahn Hoh, who notes that the building allowed for the creation of other programs, such as the Heritage Repertory Theater, where Weiss served as founding producing director for 10 years.

Heritage "helped put us on the map,” Hoh says. “People were saying we had the best theater in the Southeast.”

Weiss, who also initiated the Master of Fine Arts in Drama degree program, was known as a talented set and lighting designer. He designed or directed more than 200 productions at the University and also designed 18 outdoor dramas around the country.

As a professor, he was known for his kindness and passion for theater. Mark Johnson (Col ’71) met Weiss when Johnson joined the Virginia Players as a first-year student. He realized he was not cut out for acting, but Weiss was there to guide him toward other roles within production.

“I’m not even sure what talents I showed at that stage, but he knew … that theater was something I was really interested in, and he pointed me in the right direction,” says Johnson, who went on to win an Academy Award for producing Rain Man and also produced shows such as Breaking Bad.

That guidance has influenced Johnson to mentor others in the industry. “He went well above and beyond what was required" as a professor, Johnson says, “and I try to take that with me.”

Survivors include a daughter; a son, David Weiss Jr. (Col ’82); two granddaughters; a great-granddaughter; and a sister.

—Sarah Poole