David Black Weldon, former chancellor, dies at 89

The Western community is mourning the death of David Black Weldon, HBA’47, LLD’89, a former university chancellor, who died Monday, Feb. 24. He was 89.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28, at St. John’s the Divine, 21557 Richmond St., Arva, with a reception to follow at the London Hunt and Country Club, 1431 Oxford St. W., London.

A visitation is scheduled from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27, at Logan Funeral Home, 371 Dundas St. (between Waterloo and Colborne streets).

Online condolences can be expressed at the funeral home’s website.

Weldon, who served as Western’s chancellor from 1984-88, said he and his family always treasured their “ongoing relationship with the university.” They will always be remembered for one particular contribution – one which created a campus landmark.

Opened in 1971, The D. B. Weldon Library was built in honor of Col. Douglas Black Weldon, a veteran of the First and Second World Wars, who later commanded the London Regiment of the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada. The building was constructed thanks to substantial donations by Weldon’s children – David, Marcia and Ann.

The family was particularly pleased with the contributions, David Weldon said, as their father “had a personal interest in the quality of the library,” as well as a great fondness for former librarian, James Talman.

“David’s contributions to our university were many, varied and significant,” said Amit Chakma, Western president. “His leadership as a volunteer, his generosity as a philanthropist, and his passionate advocacy for higher education, were all indicative of the tremendous legacy the Weldon family has left our campus.”

Robin Keirstead, university archivist and acting university librarian, echoed the president’s sentiments.

“David was a great friend and benefactor of Western Libraries and it is fitting his contributions are formally recognized in The D. B. Weldon Library, with the David B. Weldon Reference Hall on the main floor and the David B. Weldon Seminar Room on the 4th floor,” he said. “We were also very pleased that he was able to join us in 2012 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Weldon Library.”

David Weldon started his career in 1947 in Montreal where he met his future wife. From 1974-89, he served as chairman of Midland Doherty. Previously, he was president and director (1966-74) and executive vice-president (1963-66) of the company’s predecessor, Midland-Osler Securities Ltd. From 1944-45, Weldon served with the Canadian Infantry. He retired in 1989.

He served on the boards of Emco, Silcorp, Grafton Group, Biltmore Hats, Goderich Elevators (past president), Guaranty Trust and Dover Industries as well as the Ontario Jockey Club, The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (past president) and Ridley College (governor).

The London native was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1997. He was also named to the London Business Hall of Fame in 1996.

As a philanthropist, Weldon’s fund-raising talents ensured the success of several community campaigns. He used his financial acumen acquired during a long career in the securities industry, to support many health care and educational institutions, particularly Western. Equally at home on the farm and in the boardroom, Weldon was an active member of the Caledon Fishing Club, the Ristigouche Salmon Club, London Hunt Club, the London Club, Toronto Golf Club, Griffith Island Club (founding member) and enjoyed the company at the Toronto Club, York Club and Commanderie de Bordeaux.

At Western, Weldon served in a number of capacities, including Western Board of Governors, and its Development and Fund Raising Committee; Ivey Business School Advisory Committee; 1878 Society chair; as well as Renaissance Campaign co-chairman.

The Western Alumni Association honoured the entire Weldon family in 1996 with its Community Service Award.

In 1984, he was “startled and delighted” when asked to succeed his long-time personal friend and business classmate, Richard M. Ivey, as Western chancellor.

“I see the duties of the chancellor as important in keeping the fabric of the university intact,” Weldon told the Alumni Gazette, days prior to officially assuming the role. “It’s a matter of deportment. Hopefully in some manner, you can perform so that you are setting an example for the rest of the constituency to try to follow.”

During his service as chancellor, Weldon foresaw many of the current issues facing universities. Particularly, he warned against waning university engagement with the businesses community, as well as with alumni.

“We have some way to go, I think, in terms of really engaging business’ interest in the health and vitality of the universities,” he said in a 1985 Alumni Gazette interview.

He saw Canadian universities as far too dependent on government funding – especially when compared to contemporaries in the United States. With increased government restraint on public-sector spending, Weldon said universities had to turn to private alternatives. He applauded Western efforts in this area – particularly through its Second Century Fund and Plan for Excellence.

“This reflects the selling that has been done by the university people to the business community,” he told the magazine. But, he stressed, there is always room to improve – and that meant for alumni to commit to giving back as well.

“Certainly, alumni in Canada don’t respond historically as well as in the United States,” he said.

As a Western student, alumnus, supporter and later as a chancellor, Weldon always remained bullish on universities and their ability to better the world.

“Universities can lead in the initiation of new ideas of developing thought. They can lead in the sense of stimulating discussion of new approached,” he said. “We must always be concerned that students coming out of universities have acquired some capacity to be useful and valuable in the economic world.”

In 1989, an honorary Doctor of Laws was conferred upon Weldon “in recognition of his contributions to the university and his distinguished record in the Canadian business community.”

At the 252nd Convocation ceremonies, then-Western President George Pedersen praised Weldon, saying the university was “honoured to be able to recognize a man who has enhanced the work of the financial world, who has recognized the need to contribute in personal ways to his community and who has always placed high value on family, friends and colleagues.

“All of these things,” Pedersen concluded, “David has done with uncommon personal warmth and humility.”

Weldon addressed graduates that day on the subject of manners and their decline in today’s society.

“That one should feel apologetic about good manners does not speak well for our civilization,” Weldon said. “For make no mistake about it, good manners are one of the things that distinguish civilized life.”

Weldon is survived by his wife, Ina Perry Weldon; children, Susan (Barry Margison), Doug (Estela Quintero-Weldon), Tony (Beth Malloy), Mardie (Michael Shay), Kate (Mark Baldwin); 14 grandchildren; and a legion of family and friends. He was preceded in death by his sisters, Marcia and Ann.