Lawrence H. Weber was only a year out of high school when the Bronx native stormed a beach in Normandy, France, in 1944, shortly after escaping a sinking transport ship that had struck a mine.
Back in the United States, the World War II veteran joined the march of former city dwellers out to the new Long Island suburbs, buying a home in Levittown, where he would remain until he died of heart failure on Nov. 9. He was 93.
Weber’s life, as recounted by those who knew him, reflects the sweep of American history in the mid-20th century, beginning with his Depression-era childhood in a crowded Bronx apartment, on to the shores of a war-ravaged Europe and finally to the country’s first modern suburb, where the longtime electrician for Consolidated Edison raised four children with his wife.
“He was very humble, but I think he was proud,” said his daughter Donna Dame of Sparta, New Jersey.
“He knew that he provided well for his family, he knew that he worked hard and moved up in his job. That was his satisfaction.”
Weber was born in the Bronx in 1925, his children said. His father struggled to provide for a family of eight on his salary as a New York City fireman during the depths of the Great Depression.
“They slept three in the bed,” said Weber’s son Gregory Weber of Sayville.
Weber’s life turned decisively during his senior year of high school in 1943, when he was drafted into the Army. He was trained as a combat engineer and assigned to land in northern France one day after D-Day, his son said.
But Weber’s ship, the USS Susan B. Anthony, struck a mine as it approached the coastline, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command.
The soldiers and crew members abandoned the sinking vessel and jumped onto neighboring ships. No one died in the incident.
Weber’s remaining military career proved less turbulent. The young combat engineer built bridges across Europe for American troops and vehicles to cross, and entered Berlin with the victorious American Army in 1945.
After his service, Weber returned to New York and began working as an electrician at Consolidated Edison. He spent 36 years rebuilding massive power plant generators for the company, his children said.
Weber married Catherine Beggin, and the couple moved to Levittown in 1952. Homes in the iconic suburb had gone on the market only five years before that.
“I think he was very proud that he lived in Levittown. He was very proud that he was able to buy a house there and raise his family there,” Dame said.
Weber spent the remainder of his life in the home, she said.
The family held a wake at Charles J. O'Shea Funeral Home in Wantagh on Nov. 17 and 18; the funeral took place at St. James Church in Seaford on Nov. 19. Weber was buried that day in Calverton National Cemetery in Calverton.
Weber was predeceased by his wife. In addition to Donna and Gregory, he is survived by his children Wanda Schneider of Wantagh and Wayne Weber of Manhattan; his sister, Evelyn Murphy of Hicksville; 11 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.