Ex-Brother Rice star, 21, was ‘a beautiful human being’
BY CASEY TONER firstname.lastname@example.org October 15, 2012 12:23PM
Purple and black bunting hangs on a fence at Brother Rice High School in Chicago and the marquee says "we remember the life of Andrew Weishar '09" Monday, October 15, 2012 during a celebration of life service for Andrew Weishar, a 2009 Brother Rice graduate and football player who died of cancer. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 17, 2012 6:13AM
Andrew Weishar was a “special person” and a “beautiful human being,” those who knew him said.
Right up until the end of his life, the 21-year-old former Brother Rice High School football standout also was a fighter in his battle against colorectal cancer.
“The courage he had was unbelievable,” his grandmother, Irene Weishar, said Monday. “He didn’t want to be pampered. He wanted to be strong all the way to the end.”
Weishar, of Midlothian, died early Friday after a two-year battle with the disease.
“At the end, he would say, ‘I’m not ready to give up,’ ” said Pat Bauldauf, Weishar’s nurse at Pronger Smith Medical Center in Blue Island.
Weishar’s wake was Monday at Brother Rice, in Chicago’s Mount Greenwood community. A funeral Mass was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at St. Damian Church, 5250 W. 155th St. in Oak Forest. Interment will follow at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. 6001 W. 111th St., near Alsip.
Classes at Brother Rice are canceled Tuesday so students can attend the service.
Black bunting was hanging Monday over the main entrance to Brother Rice, and many attendees at the wake sported blue ribbons on their lapels, symbolizing colon cancer awareness. Some attendees also wore T-shirts bearing the school’s maroon and gold colors, Weishar’s name and jersey number, and the phrase “Every day is a gift.”
Weishar graduated from Brother Rice in 2009 as an Illinois State Scholar. He maintained a 4.0-grade-point average, and graduated in the top 40 of his class.
He captained the football and basketball teams, made the SouthtownStar All-Area Team as an honorable mention, and as an offensive lineman helped lead Brother Rice to a 9-3 record. The team lost to Hinsdale Central High School in a Class 8A quarterfinal his senior year.
Other attendees wore green pins to honor Weishar’s all-too-brief time at Illinois Wesleyan University, where he played defense and studied accounting.
It was during his freshman year there, in April 2010, that Weishar underwent a colonoscopy and was diagnosed with colon cancer. He fought the disease, undergoing chemotherapy treatments and surgery.
As Weishar battled on, he became a local rallying point in the war against colon cancer.
In July, a team dubbed “Running and Walking for Andrew” participated in Tinley Park’s Get Your Rear in Gear 5k, a colon cancer benefit. More than 200 people joined the team, raising $4,868, nearly 20 times the team fundraising goal of $250.
Weishar’s supporters took to Twitter to memorialize Weishar, using the hashtag #weish4more. Former American Idol contestant and Oak Forest resident Chris Medina chimed in, offering his thoughts to his 27,103 Twitter followers.
“My heart weeps for the family of Andrew Weishar!” Medina wrote in a tweet. “Your strength is boundless!”
Weishar would have been a senior at Illinois Wesleyan this year had he continued his athletic and academic pursuits there. He likely would have played football with cornerback Matt Bascom, who said the team is dedicating its season to him. A banner honoring Weishar has been put up in the stadium.
“He was a great person and a true fighter,” Bascom said. “Even under difficult circumstances he was put under, he made sure everyone around him knew they were loved and appreciated for the support they gave him.”
Bascom said Weishar was a remarkable football player who started many games even as a freshman, helping lead the squad deep into the playoffs.
“It didn’t matter who the person was, he touched their life if he was in contact with them,” Bascom said. “To have that effect, you have to be a special person, and he was.”
Weishar returned to the school and the football team his sophomore year as a student coach.
Irene Weishar, Andrew’s grandmother, called him a “beautiful human being.”
Andrew is survived by his parents, Jean and Don Weishar; brothers Daniel and Nic; his grandmothers, Carole Michalek, of Midlothian, and Irene Weishar, of Kansas City, Mo.; and 18 cousins, among other family members.
It is an athletic family. Jean played volleyball at Northwestern University, Danny plays volleyball at Loyola University, and Nic, a wide receiver for the Marist High School football team, had 13 catches for 128 yards Friday night after Andrew’s death.