Joe A. Weatherall

Cullum: 25635

Class: 1965

Cadet Company: M2

Date of Birth: April 10, 1942

Date of Death: May 6, 2015

Died in: Asheville, NC

Interred: Cremated - disposition to be determined - View or Post a Eulogy


Joe A. WeatherallJoe Albert Weatherall Jr. was born on April 10, 1942 in Waco, TX, the only child of Joe and Frances Weatherall. He spent most of his youth in Fort Worth, TX. Joe was proud of his Texas and family heritage, which included two uncles who had served in the Army during World War II. Joe graduated from high school in Arlington, TX. He was an outstanding student and athlete (basketball and tennis). He attended Arlington State College for a year before receiving his appointment to West Point.

Following the long train ride from Fort Worth, Joe joined the USMA Class of 1965 on July 5, 1961. His time at West Point is best summarized by his classmates. One classmate noted, "Joe had a warm personality and genuine sincerity, and he was always ready to help anyone who needed some academic assistance." Another wrote, "His broad smile and warm heart graced his tall frame like a beacon in the night." Still another recalled that "Joe was the center on Company M-2's basketball team which went undefeated and won the Brigade Championship." Finally, his roommate recalled that Joe was unflappable and tolerated his late hours and afternoon naps as only a gentleman would. Joe graduated with ease and chose Infantry just as the United States began to escalate its commitment to Vietnam.

Following graduation Joe married Judith Davis, whom he had met the year before during the Second Class summer trip. Following Airborne and Ranger Schools, the Weatheralls moved to Munich, Germany. Company grade officers were being deployed to Vietnam, and Germany was depleted of captains and first lieutenants. Joe served as a platoon leader of a mechanized infantry platoon for all of four months before assuming command of A Company, T Battalion, 21st Infantry as a second lieutenant. Life in Germany rotated between CMMIs, trips to Grafenwohr for live fire exercises, and other training events. Daughter Kelly was born in Munich in November 1967. Joe next went to the Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, NC for training as an advisor to a Vietnamese unit. From April 1968 through March 1969, he served in the highlands of Vietnam with a battalion from the ARVN 23rd Infantry Division. This was an active period of ground combat. Joe was proud of his awards and ribbons but especially of his Combat Infantryman Badge. After Vietnam, Joe was assigned to Fort Carson, CO and served in both the 69th and the 4th Infantry Brigades before resigning his commission.

Joe intended to become a lawyer and attended SMU for a year but then decided to join the FBI. He was initially posted to San Diego, CA in preparation for his new career. In 1972, he transferred to the Champaign-Urbana, IL area, where he spent the next 22 years. Joanna and Lee were born in Illinois. Joe often compared his work to that of a country doctor because his four agents normally handled any case that walked in the door. He investigated bank fraud, robberies, kidnapping, and drug dealing, and he occasionally found himself in life-threatening situations. The final case of Joe's career was the subject of a book and movie titled The Informant.

Joe retired as a senior agent of the Champaign office in 1994. Sadly, his wife Judy and later his son Lee died of cancer. Joe started a new chapter in his life when, in 1990, he married Bonnie Wohlfeil (Koontz), whom he had also met on the same Second Class summer trip. They moved to Costa Rica to study Spanish and to explore. Living in San Jose for five months, they took classes and travelled the mountains, beaches, and rivers. Joe fell in love with Costa Rica and its people.

Returning to the United States, Joe and Bonnie lived in Hendersonville, NC for five years until his mother became ill. They moved to Fort Worth to assist with her care. While living in Texas, Joe studied the history and landscape of his native state. He found driving the Texas Fort Tour and seeing the remains of the Army posts built during the Plains Indian Wars especially memorable.

Following the death of his mother, Joe and Bonnie moved to the mountains in Asheville, NC for their retirement years. Joe continued to study the Spanish language, culture, and history and also found colleagues with shared interests. He continued his travels to Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Spain, as well as trips with Bonnie to England, France, Germany, Austria, and Peru.

In 2008, Joe's oldest child, daughter Kelly, passed away from breast cancer. Joe met the tragic losses in his life with his usual stalwart strength, finding solace and diversion in travelling, studying, reading, and socializing. One of the joys of his life was taking classes at the University of North Carolina-Asheville's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Joe's life ended too soon. He had more places to explore, people to meet, ideas to discuss, and good wine to savor. Less than two months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he passed away. He was disappointed not to be able to attend the USMA Class of 1965's 50th Reunion, but he was grateful to have enjoyed its 45th. Joe is survived by his wife Bonnie, daughter Joanna, granddaughter Vivien Gertson, step-son Eugene Koontz, and step-daughter Mimi Koontz.

Joe always lived the West Point motto "Duty, Honor, Country." And in farewell we say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

-- Bonnie Weatherall and Classmates