Early this morning Jan and I received a call from the family of Joe Weider that he had just died of natural causes in a local hospital near his home. To say that Joe was a giant in the world of physical culture would be an understatement, and a case could be made that his reach and influence in North America during the 20th century in that broad field exceeded that of any person living or dead. This reach and influence will be the subject of an upcoming special issue of Iron Game History, the journal we began in 1990. Over the 23 years that we’ve published IGH, we’ve only devoted an entire issue to one man–John Grimek–a legendary bodybuilder and weightlifter who was one of Joe Weider’s early inspirations and a personal friend in their later years.
As for Joe’s influence on the Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports, it’s not an exaggeration to say that had it not been for the generosity of Joe Weider there would be no Stark Center. No Joe and Betty Weider Museum filled with the paintings and sculptures they collected over the years and gave to us so we could share them with the wider world. Besides the art collection, Joe pledged $2,000,000 to allow us to expand the work we’ve done at the university, and their support of our dream gave us the courage to approach The University for the space in which to build our research center and to approach the Stark Foundation for the $5,500,000 to actually build it.
Joe Weider was Jewish, but he was also our patron saint.