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Engineer who innovated in soft drinks dies

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Wil Weber (Photograph supplied)
Wil Weber with longtime partner Lena Ostroff (Photograph supplied)
Wil Weber holds up the last can of Coke produced at John Barritt & Son Ltd in 2009 (Photograph supplied)

Wil Weber: 1941-2021

An engineer whose innovations transformed the island’s soft drinks industry has died.

Wil Weber was 78.

Mr Weber, who was born in Chicago, had a 55-year career in a family industry – his great-grandfather, Phillip Weber, moved to the city from Bavaria in Germany as a brewmaster.

His grandfather, Frank, was a brewer, and his father, Franklin, worked as a brewmaster technician.

Mr Weber founded a bottling engineering company and came to Bermuda in 1992 to work for the drinks company John Barritt & Son.

He introduced Barritt’s Diet Ginger Beer to the US and gave the drink a new formula, with sweeteners to replace Aspartame.

His network of contacts in the industry proved valuable to the firm and Mr Weber also got Barritt’s to produce bottled water and make its own plastic bottles.

Nancy Smythe, a friend from Barritt’s, said his “varied interests always ensured lively conversation”.

She added topics ranged from Chicago, brewing beer and “all the many flavours he had created”.

Mr Weber enjoyed conducting school tours of the Barritt’s bottling plant in Smith’s, and was proud of Bermuda’s product.

He told the Mid-Ocean News in 1995: “Our Coca-Cola is better than you get in the States. We use pure sugar.”

He retired from Barritt’s in 2012 and spent four years working for Coca Cola in Curaçao.

Mr Weber was also a philanthropist who led the revival of the American Society of Bermuda.

The group’s aim was to foster good relations between American residents and Bermudians.

Mr Weber became president in 1996, and again in 2008.

He helped create the Bermuda American Relief Fund, which raised almost $500,000 for the victims of the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Mr Weber became an environmentalist during his time in Bermuda and told The Royal Gazette in 2005: “After I retire, I want to be able to get out and campaign with some credibility.

“I want to be able to talk to people about what’s going on in this world – about the burning of fossil fuels, about alternative energy sources.”

Mr Weber was a keen sailor, fisherman and member of the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club.

Mr Weber, who died in North Hollywood, California, is survived by his son, Frederick, and long-time partner Lena Ostroff.

⋅ Wilbur Karl Weber was born on December 28, 1942. He died on February 25, 2021. Mr Weber was 78.

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Published April 26, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated April 26, 2021 at 6:15 am)

Engineer who innovated in soft drinks dies

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