In memoriam: Emily Booton Weitz, first female ME graduate
January 13, 2023
Emily Booton Weitz, 90, passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, January 7th. She was born May 3, 1932 in Sewickley, PA and grew up in Chester, VA just south of Richmond. Emily spent one year studying studio art at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC before transferring to Virginia Tech at her father’s urging. There, she became the first female graduate in mechanical engineering in 1954.
After earning her degree, Emily went to work at General Motors in Dayton, Ohio where she met her future husband, Fred Weitz. He persuaded Emily to marry him by promising to use his service earnings to take her to Europe. Emily accepted and they spent ten weeks of their early married life driving a VW beetle through Europe. Upon their return from Europe, Emily became an Iowan and a mother to Alice, Fritz, Ann and Sarah. Emily promoted family camping and back-packing trips, and with her family she had many adventures in the Rocky Mountains.
She returned to her interest in painting, enrolling in Drake’s art school, and studying under Karl Mattern and Jules Kirschenbaum. Although establishing herself as a skilled painter, she stopped creating original works and instead promoted Central Iowan artists by founding an artists’ cooperative, The Artists’ Gallery in West Des Moines. She also managed a rental program that brought local artists’ artwork into workplaces throughout Des Moines.
After her retirement from painting, Emily accompanied Fred in extensive foreign travel. Initially they spent a good deal of time in Mexico exploring Mayan temples, then ventured to Asia and back to Europe. Emily enjoyed time with her sister Ann, and she delighted in the achievements of seven grandchildren – Sarah Stansell and Gus Pugh; Kat, Nadia, and Chas Klammer; Lily and Miguel Schwiderke.
The family requests that expressions of sympathy be made in the form of a contribution to EveryStep Hospice.