Oscar Weitzman started working at Fort Wayne General Electric in 1904 when he was 13 years old, earning 7 1/2 cents an hour.
He worked there for nearly 50 years while his wife, Ophelia, was a school teacher at Fort Wayne Community Schools. The couple worked hard and saved, and both died in their 90s.
On Monday, IPFW officials found out just how much the couple had saved when Chancellor Vicky Carwein announced that the Weitzmans had left the university $3.4 million for student scholarships.
What a wonderful birthday present and a great way to start our 50th year, Carwein said on the first official day of classes.
The university was the sole recipient of the estate, Carwein said.
This gift will support scholarships for students attending IPFW beginning in 2015.
Two full-ride scholarships will be awarded each year, one in education and one in engineering.
Although Carwein said she was unaware of any direct ties between the couple and IPFW, the areas of engineering and education were obviously top priorities to the Weitzmans and important initiatives for the community, as well, she said.
A lifelong resident of Fort Wayne, Oscar Weitzman was born in 1891. At General Electric, he worked his way up through the company’s ranks, eventually becoming the head of the apprenticeship school and the head of a sales team, according to IPFW. He died in 1989 at the age of 98.
His wife, Ophelia, taught in Fort Wayne Community Schools for 19 years, retiring in 1958. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1940 and a master’s degree in 1948 from Indiana University, according to IPFW.
She and Oscar were married for 30 years. She died on the day after Christmas in 2012 at the age of 93.
According to Ophelia Weitzman’s obituary, the couple had no children.
This gift will go a long ways toward supporting many students achieve their goals, Carwein said.
This gift speaks to the significance of community support, said Wendy Kobler, vice chancellor for advancement. Through this gift, Oscar and Ophelia created a living legacy that shows their dedication to the value and importance of higher education, Kobler said.