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Jacques Weiser, 88, passionate English teacher, dies

As an English teacher, Jacques J. Weiser didn't just walk into his classroom, he bounded.

The Melville resident's enthusiasm for the works of literature he taught was reflected in his commanding voice, his hand gestures and his no-nonsense attitude for disruptions -- he was known to loudly kick a garbage can to regain his charges' attention when they doodled or daydreamed, his family said.

Weiser, a longtime Long Island educator and American literature aficionado, died Jan. 31 at Huntington Hospital of natural causes, his family said. He was 88.

"Dad was one hell of a character," said his younger son, Brad Weiser, of Altoona, Pa. "He was an actor. He really performed in front of the class. . . . He was passionate about teaching."

Weiser was born in the Bronx on Oct. 28, 1924, to the former Bella Zucker and Benjamin Weiser.

Weiser graduated from Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx and was drafted, serving three years in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II as a radio operator/gunner on a B-17 bomber.

While overseas, he exchanged letters with a young woman -- the former Ruth Frost.

They married Sept. 14, 1946, in Brooklyn. They honeymooned in Maine and had three children.

After his military service, Weiser graduated from Long Island University, majoring in accounting and English. He worked for a few years as an accountant, but decided on a career in teaching and earned a master's degree in secondary education from New York University.

The family lived in Inwood, and he taught at public schools in Manhattan and the Bronx before he got a job in 1959 at Commack High School and moved to Melville.

He didn't want to just teach from books, he wanted his students to broaden their horizons, his family said. He took them on field trips to The New York Times, Rockefeller Center and museums.

"It was a calling," said his son Jeffrey R. Weiser, of Scarsdale. "He got along very well with the students. They thought he was a real dynamic, memorable character. He did not put his students to sleep, to say the least. I always run into people . . . [who] always remember him."

He also taught at Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park before he began teaching night classes at Farmingdale State College, where he retired in 1991.

Weiser's nephew, Marc Frost of Atlanta, said Weiser had "more books in the house than I've ever seen." His favorite book was "The Great Gatsby," and he loved jazz and swing music of the 1940s, and playing the drums.

In addition to his wife and two sons, Weiser is survived by a daughter, Dr. Barbara Weiser of Sacramento, Calif., and four grandchildren. His brother, Seymour Weiser, died in 1975.

His funeral was held Monday at 1 p.m. at the I.J. Morris Funeral Home, Dix Hills. Burial followed at the Mount Golda Cemetery, Huntington Station.

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