U.Va. remembers three late faculty, administrators

Chester Titus, William Fishback and David Weiss passed away this December


Fishback, Weiss and Titus also passed away within the past month and were integral to various departments of the University. 

Courtesy UVA Today

The University community lost three influential men this past month.

William H. Fishback

Former University Spokesperson William H. Fishback, 83, passed away Dec. 15 in Charlottesville. He died of complications from Lewy body dementia. 

Fishback served the University for 40 years, working as the spokesperson, associate vice president of University Relations, special advisor to former University President John T. Casteen III and taught news writing in the English department. Before working for the University, Fishback was a writer and editor for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. 

Fishback served under four University presidents, retiring from his administrative position in 1995 while continuing his news writing class. He was known for his excellent teaching and personal relationships with his students. Fishback was an informal advisor to student journalists at The Cavalier Daily and the University Journal, which is now defunct. 

“He gave remarkable gifts of humanity to his students,” Casteen told UVA Today. “He knew each one, and he measured their subsequent accomplishments with both admiration and occasional amusement.”

Fishback’s tenure as University spokesperson saw major events including Queen Elizabeth’s 1976 visit for the U.S. Bicentennial, former President Ronald Reagan's visit in 1988 and an education summit hosted by the National Governors Association, which former President George H.W. Bush attended.

He continued his service the University community through his significant role in developing the Center for Politics and the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership. In 2004, he was recognized by the Raven Society and presented with the Raven Award. 

Chester R. Titus

Chester R. Titus, 96, passed away Dec. 17 at Martha Jefferson Hospital surrounded by his family. Titus was most known on Grounds for his improvement of residence life on grounds. 

Before arriving on Grounds in 1958, Titus served in the United States Air Force during World War II. He subsequently obtained the nickname, “Chet the Jet.”

Titus spent three decades working for the University as housing director, associate dean of Student Affairs and an associate education professor. During his career he developed the Residence Life program under the Office of the Dean of Students. Titus was responsible for making the Lawn rooms the esteemed housing they are today through significantly changing the application process and creating a selection committee which values contributions to the University — a majority of the committee members are students. 

Titus himself spent a significant amount of time on the Lawn while he served as the executive director of the Colonnade Club, housed in Pavilion VII.

He mentored Patricia M. Lampkin, current University vice president and chief Student Affairs officer. 

“He was a strong supporter of student self-governance and had patience for student learning, even through trial and error,” Lampkin said in a UVA Today article remembering Titus’ legacy.

Titus was awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for his contributions to the University in 1987. He continued to serve the Charlottesville community until his death through philanthropy, supporting various nonprofits such as the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and serving meals at the Salvation Army. 

David W. Weiss

David W. Weiss, 89, passed away Dec. 18 at the University Medical Center. Weiss taught in the Department of Drama at the University for 37 years, 16 of which were spent serving as the department chair in addition to professorship. During his tenure as chairman, he overlooked the establishment of the Master of Fine Arts in Theatre program and the construction of the current drama building.

Weiss primarily focused on scenery and lighting design, although he also taught theatre history, dramatic literature and acting. He also designed and/or directed over 200 productions at the University and established the Heritage Repertory Theatre alongside several other faculty members. He acted as producing director for 10 years. Weiss was honored by the IMP Society and Raven society for his contributions to the University community. 

His contributions expanded beyond Grounds as he served as the vice president and president of the Southeastern Theatre Conference. In 1995, Weiss was recognized by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival and awarded a prestigious Kennedy Medallion. The annual design awards given to students at this festival were renamed the David W. Weiss Awards for Excellence in Design.

The University community remembers and honors the contributions and legacies of these three men who have permanently shaped the University experience. 

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