Robert Hollweg served for more than 40 years as a...

Robert Hollweg served for more than 40 years as a deacon with the Huntington Assembly of God, in Huntington Station. Credit: Hollweg Family

As general counsel of Weight Watchers International, the diet and nutrition giant based in Woodbury, Robert Hollweg fought the likes of trademark infringers and diet-pill pushers, and helped turn a 1990s investigation by the Federal Trade Commission into a partnership with the FTC.

Belying the stereotype of a high-powered corporate attorney, he served more than 40 years as a deacon with the Huntington Assembly of God, in Huntington Station, taking on duties as prosaic as driving people to doctor's appointments and as large-scale as helping spearhead the construction of a new building on the church property.

At his alma mater, Fordham Law School, Hollweg was a longtime member of the Dean's Planning Council, an advisory board. “But what stands out in my mind,” said outgoing dean Matthew Diller, “is how he helped us particularly with funding for our career planning office. The idea that we can help our students start out on the right foot, catching hold of that first job — that’s important to me as a dean and important to Bob as well.”

Hollweg died April 3 at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, suffering from Legionnaires’ disease. The longtime Huntington resident was 81.

“He was quiet and kind of just gave wisdom with life or with direction,” said one of his four sons, physician Christopher Hollweg, of Centerport. “He was very decisive. And he always planned well ahead of anything that we were doing.”

The family would spend summer weekends at the Head of the Bay Club in Halesite, and sometimes when attending attorney conferences around the country, “He would take a lot of the family along,” said his son.

“Bob was thoughtful and a good listener,” said Diller. As an adviser, “He never would come to me saying, ‘You must do this, you must do that.’ He would say, ‘What do you need? And how can I help?’ ”

Robert William Hollweg was born Aug. 15, 1942, in Queens, the only child of brokerage clerk Henry John Hollweg and Isabelle Cooke Hollweg. Raised in the Bronx, he attended high school at Manhattan’s Cathedral Preparatory Seminary, followed by a year there training for the priesthood. He left that path to attend Fordham, where he graduated in 1964 and continued on to earn his law degree.

After six months as a storefront lawyer in the Bronx, he spent a year and a half as a writer for the law publications firm Matthew Bender. A colleague’s suggestion led him to join the six-year-old Weight Watchers as an assistant corporate counsel in 1969. He made his career there, including during the company’s 1978-1999 ownership by H.J. Heinz, becoming general counsel in the late 1990s and retiring in 2006.

Among his many professional posts, Hollweg was named president of the International Trademark Association in 1994. He was a board member and, for 20 years, treasurer of the Forum on Life, Culture & Society, now based at Touro University. That organization Thursday at its 11th annual International Short Film Competition inaugurated the Robert Hollweg Spirit Award, “given to people who have made significant contributions to the cinematic arts,” said FOLCS founder Thane Rosenbaum.

Hollweg is survived by his wife of 54 years, former fourth-grade teacher Irene Knutson Hollweg, of Huntington’s Knutson Marine family; sons Robert Jr., of London, Thomas, of Crofton, Maryland, John, of Manhattan, and Christopher; and nine grandchildren.

A funeral was held April 11 at the Huntington Assembly of God, followed by burial at Huntington Rural Cemetery. No additional memorial is planned, the family said.

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