Obituary: Michael Weinzierl / Businessman devoted to faith and family
Nov. 25, 1957 - Aug. 14, 2013
August 18, 2013 4:00 AM
By Ann Rodgers Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Thirty years ago, Michael Weinzierl launched a printing business with faith in God, and with that same faith he prepared his wife to take over the business after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2010.
Mr. Weinzierl, 55, of Ohio Township died Wednesday.
He had transferred Professional Graphic Communications into the name of his wife, Susan, after mentoring her. He left her notes on every file and drawer.
"He wrote those notes every single day, and every day it validated that he wasn't going to be here. I think about how hard that was. But he wrote those notes for me on absolutely everything. To me, that is love," she said.
The Franklin Park native earned a business degree from Clarion University, where he was in the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity.
"He was just a good, genuine, kind, giving individual. He was one of those guys who would take the shirt off his back, make any effort to help you out," said Rich Piekarski of Hudson, Ohio, a fraternity brother who remained a friend and became a customer.
After graduation in 1980, he worked as a salesman for a printing company, then launched Professional Graphic Communications from his home in 1983. Today it occupies a 16,500 square-foot facility where more than 25 employees handle design, printing, binding and mailing.
He met his future wife at a dance club. They shared a strong Catholic faith and a love of golf. On a golf date at Oglebay Park, a lodge employee handed him a bill for far less than he owed -- and he told her that he should be charged more.
"That was the day I knew I was going to marry that man," Mrs. Weinzierl said.
They married in December 1988. She stayed home to raise their three children, while he ran the business. "We were like Ward and June Cleaver," she said.
They didn't just attend St. Mary Catholic Church in Aleppo; they told their children that everyone had to have a "job" there. Both parents were lay ministers of the Eucharist, one daughter sang in the choir, the other was an altar server and their son taught religion classes for children.
"He had an incredible prayer life," said Patrick Molyneaux, co-director of the Catholic Men's Fellowship, who knew him through business and church. "He prayed the rosary every day, which is something you don't often see with men."
His faith showed itself in how he treated customers and employees, his wife said. They did printing for many charities, and he would donate programs for their fundraisers. At Christmas he paid his employees to ring bells at Salvation Army kettles on company time.
He tried to help his employees better themselves. When one wanted to go into sales but didn't own a suit, Mr. Weinzierl bought him a wardrobe.
"He did a lot of those sorts of things, but he never told anyone," Mrs. Weinzierl said.
He was socially responsible in more global ways as well. One of his last major projects was to get chain-of-custody certification from the Forest Stewardship Council, as a commitment to preserving the world's forests.
In July 2010 he consulted a doctor about what he thought was acid reflux, and was diagnosed with stage 3 esophageal cancer. He had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation over the next two years, living far longer than initially predicted, but never escaping the terminal diagnosis.
He was open about his impending death, making lunch dates with everyone he wanted to see and having special days with each of his children.
He initially asked his wife if she wanted him to sell the business. When she said she wanted to keep it going, he became her mentor.
"I followed him like a puppy and he taught me the business inside and out," she said. "We'd get into bed at night and he'd quiz me about the business."
He was a great fan of horse racing. In June, when his wife drove him to Louisville for a farewell visit to the Midwest Distributors Group, he found they had arranged a surprise visit to a leading horse farm. He toured the seven training and breeding facilities, and looked in the eye of Super Saver, winner of the 2010 Kentucky Derby.
In his final months he saw his son graduate from Kent State University, his older daughter complete a national tour in "A Chorus Line" and his younger daughter go on her first date to the prom at Avonworth High School. They had hoped he would live to his 25th wedding anniversary in December, but it was not to be.
"I think his most significant witness was staring death in the face so courageously and knowing that God was in control," Mr. Molyneaux said. "He was such an inspiration to what it's all about, and that's our eternal salvation."
In addition to his wife he is survived by a son, Joseph; daughters Andrea and Melinda, all of Ohio Township; and a brother, Buster, of Moon.
Visitation is today 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. in Lawrence T. Miller Funeral Home, Bellevue. The funeral Mass will be Monday at 10 a.m. in the Church of the Assumption, Bellevue, with interment in St. Mary Cemetery in Ross and a celebration of life at the Mayernik Center in Avonworth Community Park noon-4 p.m.
Gifts may be made to the American Cancer Society Mosaic of Hope at 800-227-2345.