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University of Minnesota Duluth benefactor Mary Ann Weber dies

Mary Ann Weber, who with her husband, entrepreneur Ron Weber, was instrumental in funding the Weber Music Hall at the University of Minnesota Duluth, has died.

Mary Ann Weber
Mary Ann Weber

Mary Ann Weber, who with her husband, entrepreneur Ron Weber, was instrumental in funding the Weber Music Hall at the University of Minnesota Duluth, has died.

The Cloquet native died unexpectedly on Monday at her home in Edina, Minn., family members said. Her age was not disclosed.

Ron Weber, who preceded her in death on Sept. 28 at age 84, made a fortune founding the company that imported Rapala fishing lures and Fiskars scissors from Finland.

The Webers met at UMD, where both were students. Mary Ann studied fine arts and eventually received an honorary doctorate. She worked as a fashion model and later as treasurer/secretary of R.W. Weber Sales, and served on the board of Norwest/Wells Fargo Bank.

She also was a musician who performed as a concert pianist at the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis and as a cellist in the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra.

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They had four children. Their daughter Maribeth Weber Marchi, of the San Francisco Bay area, said she remembered her mother's "useful tips when it came to shopping, fashion, interior design, cooking and putting on a spectacular dinner party."

Added another daughter, Jeanne Weber Dentzel of Santa Barbara, Calif., "My mom was an eternal optimist. She saw and created beauty wherever she went."

In 2000, the Webers donated $1 million to UMD to spur construction of the $9.2 million music hall that bears their name. The 350-seat hall, designed by architect Cesar Pelli, is noted for its acoustics.

"It meant a lot to my mom to support the Weber Music Hall, knowing that the community of Duluth would enjoy concerts in a magnificent setting for years beyond her lifetime," Marchi said.

Mary Ann Weber also sponsored many music scholarship endowments at UMD and was a major contributor to the Weber Stream Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Aquarium. The former is a collaborative effort to improve the water quality in Amity Creek and the Lester River.

The funeral will take place at noon Thursday at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, 5025 Knox Ave. S., Minneapolis, with visitation beginning at 11 a.m.

Related Topics: MUSIC
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