Nelson O. Weber was raised 20 miles south of High Ridge. Even though his roots have stayed the same, Weber’s lifestyle is the opposite of sedentary.
Weber started working at McDonnell Aircraft (now Boeing) in 1957. He worked in the shop on final assembly on the F-101 VooDoo. After obtaining his mechanical engineering degree in 1962, he worked on space and missile programs and with fighter and passenger aircraft.
After retiring in 1994, Weber worked as a consultant for McDonnell Douglas until 1998. He traveled both to Israel and Malaysia as part of his consulting work.
“The Ministry of Defense Office in Israel contacted me and wanted me to come over. It’s fun to do—the culture shock doesn’t bother me,” Weber said. “Anything you want to do, you can do. Engineers tend to have elaborate designs, which cost more. My knack is to design things more simply, lowering the cost.”
During his work as a consultant, he received a patent in 2003 for a small diameter missile, at the age of 65.
“Guys and girls, remember it is never too late in life to do all kinds of accomplishments,” he said.
Weber certainly didn’t stop there. Another passion of Weber’s is the sinking of the Steamboat Montana in 1884 in St. Charles, Mo. The Montana was the largest riverboat to travel the Missouri River. It went as far east at Pittsburgh and as far west at Fort Benton, Montana. It carried up to 900 tons of cargo, including passengers. Weber first visited the shipwreck site in 1967 and has since performed hundreds of hours of research on the topic. He wrote a book in 2006, “The Legendary Montana Riverboat,” that includes many photos of the remaining parts of the shipwreck. It can be purchased at the St. Charles Historical Society on Main Street. He also has mounted parts of the riverboat for display.
“You look for something that’s gonna be there—not so much a treasure but something maybe from that era,” he said. “It fascinates me in how it was built, put together, and that was the way that people lived in that time. That’s the best of what they had at that time.”
The Bridgeton Historical Society asked Weber to speak at the “Tales on the Trail” in October of 2011 regarding his Montana shipwreck knowledge. The annual event has participants walk along a 1.7-mile trail along the Missouri River. They are given a booklet and get their passport “stamped” at each station along the way.
As if that wasn’t enough, Weber also is a Northwest R-I School District Board of Education member, serving his first of a three-year term.
“I always was interested in giving back to the community. School kind of caught my interest from a standpoint in my work,” he said. “I’m pretty affective at getting things done and I thought I could apply that to the school board and bring about some improvements.”
Weber self-admittedly said that he has had so many adventures in his life because he gets bored with a focus on one thing. He even wrote an autobiography, "My Life & Experiences,” a “hobby” he said that took him three years to complete.
“I like to pursue things with people and learning things from other people. People are kind of a hobby too because you can always learn something from somebody else. There is so much in this world just to see and do and I feel it’s a waste to just learn about one thing,” he said.
In his “spare” time, Weber likes to ride his Harley, which he has ridden every year since 1960. He has ridden as far as Utah and Florida. He also is a member of Memories Car Club of High Ridge, which puts on a car cruise at Faith Church, in Sunset Hills, on the first Friday of the month, April-October. More than 500 show cars from 1979 and older and more than 3,000 people participate monthly.
Weber owns five collector cars with his wife of 32 years, Carol, and he has won 51 trophies. They range from a 40 horsepower 1930 Model A Ford to a 875 horsepower 1968 Chrysler 300.
Carol, who Weber said is a “Jefferson County pickup driving girl,” frequently takes the couple’s RV on trips either with or without her busy husband now that their three children are grown.
“She can run up the jacks and be gone in a half hour,” he said. “I’d like to get a little more RV time and travel up to Washington or Oregon or Maine. But I’m saving that kinda for when I get old and have to walk with a cane. I’m gonna save that for when I have to keep sitting.”