Even in death, radio newsman and entrepreneur George Weiss wanted to give all he had -- including his radio stations and his body -- for advancement of the medical community.
Mr. Weiss died Wednesday after a monthlong stay at the Medical College of Georgia, where he had undergone surgery for lung cancer and received treatment for a neurological condition, said MCG President Francis J. Tedesco. Mr. Weiss' body will be used with next year's incoming medical school class to teach anatomy.
"Not only did he give us his assets, he willed his body to us also," Dr. Tedesco said. To Mr. Weiss, it was "the greatest gift of all."
Mr. Weiss earlier had donated his radio stations, WBBQ and WZNY, and other businesses to the medical college. The stations were sold during the summer, with the $14 million to be used to create the Weiss Endowment for research. The final transfer of the stations is awaiting government approval.
Mr. Weiss moved with his parents to Augusta from Chicago at age 6. Friends and associates described him as a passionate radio newsman who loved being in the field instead of behind a desk.
"He was a radio station personality and newsman from birth," said WBBQ general manager Birnie Florie, who worked with Mr. Weiss for 34 years. "If it happened at 3 in the morning or 2 in the afternoon, he was there covering it. He worked basically seven days a week, 24 hours a day."
Mr. Weiss was known as BBQ Car 1 from the opening of the station. Radio reporters respected his voice resounding over the air to correct any mistake he caught, Mr. Florie said.
"Although it was important to be the first medium to break a story, it was more important to be accurate," Mr. Florie said. "He probably corrected 50 percent of the reporters that went on the air. Up until about three months ago, reporters would get an instant critique of reports over two-way radio."
After being stationed overseas in World War II, Mr. Weiss applied for a radio license. With other investors, he started WBBQ in January 1947, Mr. Florie said.
"He was very involved in the process of who bought the station," Mr. Florie said. "MCG was one of his favorite charities and he wanted to make a contribution to mankind. ... We're very saddened by his death, but we are glad to have been able to work with a man of his magnitude. I don't know of anyone who has been more of a mentor. He has given so much to this community."
Mr. Weiss' first contribution to the school was an anonymous gift of $750,000 in 1992 to create a chair in telemedicine, Dr. Tedesco said.
Mr. Weiss left it up to school officials to decide whether to use the money for future needs or new developments, Dr. Tedesco said.
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