With a tremendous amount of collective sorrow, Smith & Loveless Inc. announces the passing of Senior Engineering Consultant Frank G. Weis P.E., one of the nation’s longest tenured professional engineers and one of the area’s most treasured citizens. Weis, whose distinguished professional career began at Smith & Loveless Inc. nearly 60 years ago and lasted through 2014, died Sunday at his home in Kansas City. He was 93.
Smith & Loveless hired Weis as its first staff engineer in 1954, but little did it know the breadth of contributions that one man could make – and would make. His amazing career spanned seven different decades at one company and his considerable technical innovations helped shape the nation’s burgeoning water industry in the post-World War II era and well beyond. Among his most noted achievements from more than 40 equipment patents was the development of the first solids handling pump for municipal sewer collection and transfer, and the invention of the world’s first hydraulic vortex grit removal system.
“The entire Smith & Loveless family is saddened by the loss of Frank Weis, whose dedicated length of service combined with his extensive portfolio of industry patents and product innovation yielded one of our industry’s most significant contributors,” said Frank Rebori, Smith & Loveless president. “His amazing legacy not only helped shape the innovative foundation of Smith & Loveless, but his loyalty, determination and joyful service set a tremendous example for our company culture.”
Prior to his Smith & Loveless career, Weis was shaped by a variety of self-described “nuts and bolts experiences”. Following graduation from the University of Missouri School of Engineering in 1942, Weis later became an Engineering Officer in the United States Navy. He served in World War II – including in the South Pacific – for two years before returning to Kansas City to work for the KCMO Water Department as Superintendent and Assistant Chief Engineer. During the Great Kansas City Flood of 1951, Weis was in charge of the crew that prevented the lower concrete pump level of the Primary Lift Station from collapsing, which was responsible for all of Kansas City’s water supply at the time.
Three years later, when founders Alden Smith and Compere Loveless asked Weis to join the company as its Chief Engineer, they provided whatever space and tools necessary for Weis to blaze a unique path, which he did through generations of hard work and inspiration.
In1959, Smith & Loveless rapidly grew from its original plant in Merriam, Kans., to become the first industrial company in Lenexa, Kans., where its global headquarters remain. Global is the operative term as Smith & Loveless boasts tens of thousands of system installations on all seven continents - many of which were inspired by Weis’ research and development work. Today, local communities in Kansas and Missouri share common traits with world cities like Shanghai and Sydney and thousands of other places in more than 70 countries around the world: their water is handled by systems originally developed by Frank Weis and the generations of Smith & Loveless engineers he inspired with his determination and innovation.
“Frank’s innovative spirit, determination, and passion drove him to always be learning and striving to make things better, both in his professional career and personal life, ” said Rodney Mrkvicka, S&L vice president of engineering. “Because he never lowered his level of passion, his influence on our staff of 30-plus engineers and rest of the company was truly profound, and continues to drive our commitment to superior and operator-friendly products in the water industry today.”
Weis’ distinguished career was recognized by industry peers and associations with the highest honors. In particular, he received the Henry R. Worthington Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for his career and considerable achievements in pumping machinery, in 1999. He also received the University of Missouri’s Distinguished Service in Engineering Award in 2005.
Weis’ tenure continued into 2014, representing his 60th year at Smith & Loveless and a milestone that few employees of any company ever reach. And yet, he went about his work with the same gusto, dedication, and joy as he always had. In recent years, he traveled daily to Smith & Loveless and continued to conduct several important research and development projects. Weis is survived by his wife of 69 years, Audrey, three children, six grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. Memorials are still pending.
About Smith & Loveless, Inc.
Founded in 1946, Smith & Loveless Inc. is a global leader in the water and wastewater industry, offering a complete line of pumping, treatment and headworks equipment and boasting installations in more than 70 nations around the world. For more information, visit www.smithandloveless.com.
SOURCE: Smith & Loveless, Inc.