The day I met Ernie Weckbaugh, he said, “Michael, never turn down an opportunity to speak…especially if you have a captured audience.” That was one of the many lessons I learned from Ernie, which forced a bittersweet smile on my face as I prepared his eulogy last October. Ever the lighthearted teacher, I can hear his voice, “Instead of offering a chronological presentation of my life, provide some basic facts then key insights that evoke happy, healthy memories and maybe an anecdote or two.”
Weckbaugh was a veteran journalist, L.A. Daily News columnist, author and former child actor - a member of the original cast of the Our Gang Comedies (Little Rascals) in the 1930s, and my friend. As the owner and president of Casa Graphics, Inc. and Bestseller Books Publishing, he and his wife Patty, of fifty wonderful years, produced several hundred books for self-publishers. He lectured on small business success, marketing and promotion at UCLA, USC and Woodbury colleges.
An Anecdote (or two)
Ernie could not resist three things in life. First and foremost is his lovely wife Patty – and we know she loved him. She changed her perfect alliteration name from Patty Palmer to Patty Weckbaugh. If that doesn’t say, “I love you,” I don’t know what does. Although, being a Weckbaugh does make her unique.
The other two things Ernie could not resist were a good story and a bad pun. For example: Ernie believed in donating blood. It is a healthy altruistic habit – a planned act of kindness is what he called it, which very few people follow through on. One day when he was providing his bi-monthly donation he had an epiphany.
He told the nurse, “There are only two types of blood donors: pessimists and optimists. A pessimist's blood type is always b-negative; and an optimist’s is b-positive.”
That story netted Ernie a chuckle and an extra pack of cookies. I think that was his real goal. He never met a cookie he didn’t like. No doubt the nurses were on to him.
He also loved helping people tell their own stories by self-publishing books. I recall one tale he worked on in the early 1990s. It was about two Eskimos sitting in a kayak and who were chilly, but when they lit a fire in the craft, it sank, which proved once and for all that you can't have your kayak and heat it, too.
Good clean humor was his trademark. Clean is supreme. Another lesson I learned from Ernest Lewis Weckbaugh.
I have a simple task for each of you to do on Ernie’s behalf. It’s something very easy. It will take about one hour of your time. And you’ll get a treat when you’re done.
Ernie saved 18 peoples’ lives, a year, for the last 36 years. For non-math majors that’s 630 lives. Like clockwork, every 56 days, Ernie Weckbaugh donated a pint of blood. Each pint can save three lives.
Ernie donated more than 25 gallons of blood over his lifetime and in 2009 was honored by St. Joseph’s Hospital. That’s a whole lot of juice and cookies.
So your mission is, between now and the end of the year, to donate one pint of blood in memory of Ernie Weckbaugh. Maybe, just maybe, it will turn into a happy and healthy habit for you, too.
To Ernie, and Patty, I offer this tasteful toast:
You are unique
One of a kind
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