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Paul Weldon, owner of oldest U.S. manufacturer of starter drives, dies at 64

“He really just made life so fun. What I’m going to miss most are those little moments,” Mr. Weldon’s daughter Treacy Weldon O’Keefe said. “Just being around him was a gift.”

Paul Weldon at a family wedding.
Paul Weldon at a family wedding.
Photo courtesy of Julia Franzosa

Paul J. Weldon’s company made starter drives, but at home he also dabbled in lamination.

Treacy Weldon O’Keefe remembered her father printing and cutting out clippings of his children’s sports achievements, laminating them and putting them up in their kitchen.

“He was the most vibrant, loving, supportive dad to us growing up. When my mom passed away, he took the role of being mom and dad, and he truly never skipped a beat,” she said.

Mr. Weldon, 64, third-generation owner of the oldest U.S. manufacturers of starter drives, died May 24 from complications of multiple myeloma.

Born in River Forest, Mr. Weldon attended St. Luke School and Roosevelt Middle School in River Forest before graduating from Fenwick High School in Oak Park. He later earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Loyola University Chicago and an MBA from Roosevelt University.

Mr. Weldon had led the 102-year-old Van Bergen & Greener, Inc. in Maywood since his father died in 1988.

“And like my father, he was greatly respected as an ethical man who was true to his word and was highly respected by clients, customers and all his employees,” said Mr. Weldon’s younger sister Michele Weldon.

Before his cancer diagnosis in 2016, Mr. Weldon would call her on his morning drives to work with a joke or some advice.

“In the last year, when he was ill, I made him soup every Saturday. That was a way for us to just talk and be candid. He was still giving me advice as only he could,” Michele Weldon said.

Mr. Weldon married Bernadette Treacy in 1985. The couple raised their three children Matthew, Treacy and Marirose in River Forest before moving to Oak Brook.

“He was most proud of his relationships with his children and his family,” Michele Weldon said.

Mr. Weldon’s first wife died in 2004 from a brain tumor.

“His children lost their mother at a young age,” said Mr. Weldon’s older sister Madeleine Weldon-Linne. “The youngest was only 9. But they grew up to be fair and driven and kept their faith in God.”

In 2015, Mr. Weldon married Diane Schikora Tentler. She survives.

Mr. Weldon was active in Catholic charities, as well as the Lumen Christi Institute, an organization that promotes the Catholic intellectual tradition in schools.

“He felt it was his responsibility to give back because my mother would always say, ‘To whom much is given, much is expected,’ and he lived that mantra,” Michele Weldon said.

Aside from his dedication to business and family, Mr. Weldon was also an entertainer and prankster, breaking into exaggerated dance moves and imitations at family gatherings, she said.

“When he was about 3 years old, he used to always put a T-shirt over his dirty shirt so at the end of the day he had about 10 shirts on. And we made fun of him for that forever,” Weldon-Linne said.

“He was in a cooking group once, but he never cooked anything. He only bought carry out to every potluck. But all my friends really really enjoyed and appreciated him,” Michele Weldon said.

“He really just made life so fun. What I’m going to miss most are those little moments,” Weldon O'Keefe said. “Just being around him was a gift.”

Mr. Weldon’s youngest daughter Marirose Weldon moved back to Chicago from Los Angeles in March 2020, supporting her father in his final months and helping with the business.

“I was very happy to be there because he could trust me, and I was able to learn a lot. And he was still working up until about a month ago,” said Marirose Weldon. “My dad was very supportive and outrageously generous.”

She said she will miss her father’s humor.

Mr. Weldon could often be seen in his neighborhood driving his 2000 red Corvette with the license plate, “OOH YAH.”

Other survivors include Mr. Weldon’s other three siblings, Mary Pat Woitas, Maureen Weldon and Bill Weldon; stepchildren Robert, David and Julie Tentler; and 27 nieces and nephews.

Services have been held.