Leonard Weitzman
June 24, 2018

Visitation Information

June 28 2018 - 11:30 am
Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc, 5509 Centre Avenue, Shadyside, 15232

Funeral Information

June 28 2018 - 1:00 pm
Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc, 5509 Centre Avenue, Shadyside, 15232

WEITZMAN, LEONARD: Born on May 4, 1923 and died on June 24, 2018. During World War II, Lieutenant Leonard Weitzman lay in an army field hospital in Naples, Italy, waiting for a doctor to amputate his infected leg. A visiting surgeon walked past, picked up his medical chart and said, “I think I can save this man’s leg.”  And he did. After undergoing a radically new but successful operation, the young soldier spent months in U.S. military rehabilitation centers, where he realized that no one spoke to soldiers with disabilities about how they would one day find employment. When the U.S. Army gave him a medical retirement, he returned home to Pittsburgh and pursued a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Pittsburgh. He also pursued Harriet Reich, a coed from Warsaw, Indiana, and the couple wed in August 1947 at the Urban Room in the William Penn Hotel. In 1947, Mr. Weitzman started his career as a placement counselor at the United Vocational and Employment Service, a Downtown social service agency founded in 1927 by the National Council of Jewish Women. The agency helped people with physical and mental disabilities acquire skills and find employment. When he retired in 1988, Mr. Weitzman was an internationally known expert on sheltered workshops and vocational rehabilitation, the agency, renamed the Vocational Rehabilitation Center of Allegheny County, was regarded as a model, and its board named the agency’s building in his honor. Mr. Weitzman, 95, formerly of Shadyside and Squirrel Hill, died Sunday at Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.  Mr. Weitzman was 30 in 1953 when he was promoted to executive director of the agency. Under his leadership, the organization moved to larger quarters at 713 Penn Ave. and doubled the number of clients it served by 1957. The agency was a pioneer in training and finding jobs for people. In the 1940s, the agency began offering rehabilitation services to mentally ill clients. In the 1950s, the agency again expanded its mission to serving people who had learning disabilities. During the 1960s, people with drug and alcohol problems found training and work through the agency’s efforts. In 1961, the agency changed its name to the Vocational Rehabilitation Center of Allegheny County. An innovative leader and tireless fundraiser, Mr. Weitzman developed the VRC into a multi-faceted agency with a staff of 175 and a $7.5 million budget. He raised $2.3 million to construct a building to house the growing agency at 1323 Forbes Ave., Uptown. When the new building opened in 1970, the agency trained 2,500 people a year. Clients came from 20 counties in Western Pennsylvania. The two-story, red-brick structure covered a city block. It had medical and dental exam rooms and a 34-bed dormitory. The agency began offering night classes in assembling, offset printing, mechanics and woodcutting. Mr. Weitzman raised more than $2 million to add two more floors in the mid-1970’s. In 2004,the agency changed its name to Life’sWork of Western Pennsylvania. Mr. Weitzman served as president of the National Association of Sheltered Workshops and Homebound Programs as well as the National Association of Rehabilitation Facilities. He also was allied with Cornell University and its training of vocational rehabilitation professionals. For nearly 20 years, he was a delegate  to the World Vocational Commission of Rehabilitation International. His peers elected him to serve as the organization’s president for six years.  In that role, he traveled frequently, visiting Fiji, Israel, Hawaii, Japan and Europe. In Japan, he and his wife had a memorable half-hour audience with the crown prince of Japan, now that country’s emperor. The two men learned they shared a love for tennis. Mr. Weitzman was a consultant to the Social Security Administration’s disability determination program. The U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare asked him to assist rehabilitation programs in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. At the request of the U.S. government, he traveled to East Germany, Israel and Pakistan.  Mr. Weitzman served as president of the board of trustees for Rodef Shalom Congregation. From 1972 through 1974, he served as president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Jewish Committee. He was an enthusiastic golfer and tennis player. Mr. Weitzman was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., the son of  European immigrant parents, Joseph and Irene Weitzman. He was a child when his family moved to Pittsburgh and grew up in the Hill District and Squirrel Hill.  He graduated from Schenley High School and enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh. After graduating as a ROTC cadet in 1943, he was commissioned and saw duty training troops in Florida and then active duty in Italy.  He is survived by three sons and two daughters, Richard of Plum, Mark of Mt. Lebanon, Steve of Braddock Hills, Barbara Kelley of Kirtland, Ohio, and Nancy Weitzman of Shadyside; longtime companion Miriam Schaffel of Boston, Mass.; daughters-in-law Judy Weitzman and Marylynne Pitz; grandchildren Ari, Linda, and Daniel Weitzman, Aaron Weitzman, and Eric and Hannah Kelly; niece Mindy Kart, grandnephew Jordan Kart, and nephew Ira Katz.   His wife of 61 years, Harriet, died in 2008. Services at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc, 5509 Centre Avenue, Shadyside on Thursday at 1 PM. Visitation one and one half hour prior to services (11:30 am - 1 PM). Interment West View Cemetery of Rodef Shalom Congregation.  Memorial contributions may be made to Life’s Work of Western Pennsylvania, the United Jewish Federation, or the Alzheimer’s Association. www.schugar.com


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Mark and Marylynne, What an incredible individual and a life very well lived. God bless him, you, and your families

By John and Kiera Lally - June 28, 2018

Mark and Marylynne: Please accept our sincere condolences on the passing of your beloved Father. Truly a member of the Greatest Generation.

By Philip Skender and Michelle Lally - June 27, 2018