May 28—Nobody animate seems to apperceive whether George Weitz and Florence Govern were dating or aloof accompany afterwards they met in the 1930s at the Schoharie State Academy of Agriculture. But a painting of Weitz — apparent in Govern’s basement — brought birth of both families calm for the aboriginal time Thursday for a commemoration and conversation.
A lot has afflicted at the above agronomical school, now SUNY Cobleskill, aback Weitz became a apprentice in 1935. Aback then, the campus consisted of four barrio on a quad. On one ancillary was the address for the agronomical program. The home economics architecture was opposite, with the apprentice cafeteria in the basement. The abecedary training classes were on the arctic ancillary of the quad, according to a history on the academy website.
It may accept been amid these barrio area Weitz and Govern met. He was 21, and demography classes in agriculture. She was 18, belief to be a abecedary and alive in the academy library.
Weitz accelerating and became a milk ambassador in Schoharie County, said his son Gary Weitz during an account on May 26, continuing in advanced of the painting and beside Rob Nixon, the man who begin it. Back Apple War II started, Weitz abounding a 90-day administrator training again alien out to Europe. He landed on Utah Beach bristles canicule afterwards D-Day, and spent the war angry in France and Belgium.
At some point Weitz had his account painted, and beatific it aback to Govern. “It was accepted for soldiers, back they accustomed in Europe, to accept paintings done like this and alien home to accompany and family,” said Kate Weaver from the SUNY Cobleskill Office of Advancement during the May 26 event. Weaver was the one who managed to clue bottomward Gary Weitz afterwards Nixon and his wife Kay brought the painting to campus in 2020, allurement for help.
In December 1945, three months afterwards the war ended, Weitz alternate home to upstate New York.
He came to see Govern — there is a photo of the two of them, dressed up and continuing in the snow. It is the aftermost accepted affirmation of alternation amid them. Seven months later, Weitz affiliated addition woman. Nevertheless, Govern kept that painting tucked abroad for 70 years.
Nixon talked about Govern’s life. He’s accepted her for abundant of his life, because he is affiliated to Govern’s niece. (His wife capital to accommodated the Weitzes but was not able to biking up from Florida for the event.)
Govern was from Stamford. Afterwards belief at Cobleskill she formed as a concrete apprenticeship teacher. She never married, and lived apart about her accomplished life, until she was 96.
“Aunt Flo, she had her affection burst a brace of times,” Nixon said. “She accomplished all the girls — basketball, baseball, she did everything. In a man’s world. She did well, I mean, but she had a abandoned life. She was by herself. She affectionate of gave up, I anticipate and went on her own.”
Govern confused to the Robinson Terrace nursing home in Stamford and asked the Nixons to apple-pie out her house. They awash or gave a lot away, including her dog, but kept the painting.
“But that was not the alone painting I begin in the cellar,” Nixon said on Thursday. He and his wife begin two paintings of Apple War II soldiers captivated together. They took them to Govern, who anon told them one was George Weitz, but the added one she was borderline about.
Nixon angry to Weaver and told her she has addition job to do: the additional painting is still in their berth on Lake Canadarago. “And it’s staring at me, like, ‘help me’. And I don’t apperceive area to booty it from here.”
After Govern died in 2017, Kay and Rob Nixon spent several years aggravating to acquisition out what happened to Weitz. They alone ran into asleep ends until they asked SUNY Cobleskill for assistance. Weaver did archival research, abstruse that Weitz came from Pine Island in Orange County, and eventually begin Gary Weitz.
Weitz got affecting Thursday as he declared seeing the painting for the aboriginal time.
“I knew my dad years later, back he’d been baffled up by life. I don’t bethink him like this as a adolescent man” he said. Donna Weitz, continuing abutting to him, wiped a breach from her cheek. “I accept so abounding of my dad’s characteristics, both acceptable and bad,” he said.
Weitz thanked the Nixons and SUNY Cobleskill for the assignment they took to acquisition him. “The accomplishment that was fabricated forth the way is to me a above allotment of the adventure of this painting, and why it has so abundant acceptation and will consistently abide in my home for the blow of our lives,” he said.
After the accident ended, Nixon and the Weitzes sat at a table, comparing notes. Nixon texted a acquaintance at home and asked him to booty a photo of the additional painting of the abstruseness soldier. He anesthetized his buzz about to appearance others. The soldier looked earlier and thinner than the painting of Weitz.
But Gary Weitz chock-full mid-sentence back he looked at the picture. “Just a minute now,” he said quietly. “That’s my dad. That’s absolutely my father.” If the aboriginal painting showed him as he looked back he accustomed in France, the additional painting may be how he appeared afterwards three years of war, Weitz said.
Mike Forster Rothbart, agents writer, can be accomplished at [email protected] or 607-441-7213.
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