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Rocky Mountain News - Jack Weil the Younger dies at 79

Jack Weil the Younger dies at 79

By Bill Gallo , Special to the Rocky Mountain News

  

Weil exhibited 20 of his paintings just last month.

Jack B. Weil was a businessman with a gift for art - and an artist with a head for business.

An accomplished abstract impressionist painter who also designed the Western shirts for John Travolta in the film Urban Cowboy, Mr. Weil spent over 50 years as a major force at Rockmount Ranch Wear.

The Denver company was founded by his iconic father, Jack A. Weil, "Papa Jack," who survives him at age 106.

Jack Weil the Younger died Tuesday at his Capitol Hill home after an 8-month battle with esophageal cancer. He was 79.

Services will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at the First Universalist Church, 4101 E. Hampden Ave.

"My father was a contrarian and a very eclectic personality," said his son, Rockmount President Steve Weil. "In the 1990s he was secretary of the Colorado Republican Party, but his art was influenced by people like Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock and (Joan) Miro. There was nothing straight and narrow about him."

Mr. Weil was born Nov. 13, 1928, in Denver's Mercy Hospital and lived here all his life, save for a stint as an Army second lieutenant in Virginia and his studies at Tulane University in New Orleans, from which he graduated in 1952.

Twice married and divorced, he had been single since the 1980s. In the 1960s, a family rabbi characterized him as a Unitarian; he promptly joined the First Universalist Church.

Jack B. joined Rockmount in 1954 and worked with his father for half a century, often hurdling generational disputes. He is credited with expanding the company's reach to the Eastern states.

Rockmount shirts have been worn by Bob Dylan, President Reagan, Elvis Presley and Robert Redford, among others. They were also worn by the two leading men of the popular movie Brokeback Mountain. By coincidence, Brokeback star Heath Ledger was found dead Tuesday.

Mr. Weil's most recent exhibition was a 20-canvas show last month at the Berkeley Gallery. In the 1960s, the Denver Art Museum hung one of his forward-looking collages.

A lifelong supporter of public higher education, he recently served as chairman of the Foundation for Community College of Denver. Because of his illness, he retired from Rockmount five months ago.

"He lived for his buying trips to New York," his son said. "He would buy piece goods - fabric - but he would also visit all the museums and galleries to see the latest art."

Aside from his 106-year-old father, Mr. Weil is survived by his son, Steve, and a daughter, Judy Oksner, both of Denver; a sister, Jane Romberg, of Steamboat Springs; and three grandchildren.

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