Creative people often have an edge over others in their ability see potential in a situation and to problem-solve in ways that bring results.
As young student of Southern Garrett High School, Weissgerber painted his school mascot on the gymnasium floor in the early 1970s, he contemplated a possible career in graphic design. His steady brushstrokes created an artistic rendition of a ram, a long-held symbol of determination, action, initiative, and leadership.
It was exactly this skillset that would take the Pittsburgh native turned Garrett countian through a remarkable career in real estate and help a community heal from tragedy.
Perhaps his teachers or a few fellow students noticed his natural charisma enhanced by a boundless energy that would propel him toward a life of accomplishment. It did not take long after college graduation for others to see a rising star.
Recently named the Community Trust Foundation’s 2020 Humanitarian Honoree,
Weissgerber could be the embodiment of a philanthropic leader who humbly seeks to make a difference for the greater good.
His real estate career began in 1984, coincidentally the same year that Interstate 68 enabled easier access to Deep Creek Lake from the Baltimore-Washington area. With several state parks within 30 minutes of Deep Creek, its lake-front property increased in value along the 65 miles of pristine shoreline. The area became a popular destination for both Pittsburgh and Baltimore-Washington residents who enjoy the region’s four seasons of adventure in boating, swimming, fishing and skiing.
Joining Railey Realty in 1992, Bill Weissgerber became a top-performing agent and garnered a stake in the company’s ownership. His career sales in excess of $500 million have made him one of the most highly regarded agents in the region. His innate abilities to see potential positioned him to be integrally involved in several successful developments in and around Deep Creek Lake.
He and his wife Debbie made Garrett County their home and raised two daughters. Long interested in youth sports and their ability to foster character development, Bill put himself through the prestigious Wootten basketball school. He served as both the head coach for the Southern Lady Rams junior varsity team and as the assistant coach for the varsity team during some of their most successful years, including the achievement of two state championships.
In addition to coaching, he has served on the boards of the Garrett County Realtors, Clear Mountain Bank, the Garrett Regional Medical Center and has assisted the building campaign for the Crossroads Church. In 2017, he was inducted into his high school alma mater’s Hall of Fame for contributions he has made to the school’s athletic programs, along with his remarkable career and community service feats.
For Bill, it was really never about the next commission or the next sale or the next big win. Though highly driven and naturally competitive, it was always about the people. About how matching a family to the right vacation house or how taking a team of adolescent girls to sing carols at a nursing home could improve their lives and the lives of others.
However, a series of misfortunes in his community within a six-year span tapped Coach Weissgerber’s creative spirit.
“Bill has created a legacy of giving back that has inspired the community to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” says Community Trust Foundation executive director Leah Shaffer. “Philanthropic leadership like his is contagious and worthy of recognition.”
When Brian and Crystal Boal lost their two-year-old son, Landon, to Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood in September 2006, Bill Weissgerber helped them inaugurate a golf tournament to raise funds to start Landon’s Library. Since its inception, Landon’s Library has provided over 360,000 books in partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and other programs to preschool children in Garrett County from birth until kindergarten, the first county-wide effort of its kind in the state. Through this initiative, children also benefit from Kindermusik classes, monthly play dates, and a youth basketball league for Garrett County children in grades K-5.
In an uncanny confluence of coincidence, two other Garrett County families lost young people in separate automobile accidents. Charlie and June McClosky lost their 21-year old daughter, Samantha. And Andrew Woods, the 34-year old son of Tom and Debbie Woods, died. Both Samantha and Andrew were graduates of Southern Garrett High School. Samantha was a college student studying art and Andrew was an attorney and trust officer at First United Bank in Oakland. He left behind a wife, Kyle, and a daughter, Gabrielle.
The Samantha Funding the Arts program was initiated in her memory to support and promote the arts throughout the Garrett county school system. Likewise, the Andrew S. Woods Memorial Scholarship was established to award four Garrett county high school students with funds to continue their education at four-year institutions.
Weissgerber’s love of community and his visionary thinking led him to reach out to the McClosky and Woods families to include them in the annual golf tournament he had helped organize in memory of Landon Boal.
The losses of these three people from the community indeed served as the inspiration for the WGW Community Youth Cup, a three-day event including a reception and two golf tournaments, along with several community-based activities. Since its inception, it has raised in excess of $800,000 for over 125 different charities serving youth.
“When Andy and Samantha died, we were asked to be part of it,” said Tom Woods, the former Maryland Hall of Fame football coach and principal of Southern High. “We had thought about trying to raise $1,000 for a scholarship to give every year, but when we got involved with the WGW Benefit Golf Tournament, things just ballooned.”
“All of this was the brainchild of Bill Weissgerber,” said Woods, “who has put a tremendous amount of his time and resources into this to ensure the kids of Garrett County have these financial opportunities.”
The WGW’s mission is to promote the Christian values that are part of the families of Landon, Samantha, and Andrew.
At press time of this article, the COVID-19 pandemic renders uncertain the possibility that the June 2020 WGW events can be held. But for a possibility thinker like Weissgerber, the legacy of love for his community will not end.
“We will find a way to persevere,” says Bills.
Currently investigating ways of creating an endowed fund for perpetual giving is high on his list of priorities in his partnership with CTF.
Serving both Garrett and Allegany counties in Maryland, as well as the adjacent West Virginia’s Mineral County, CTF helps philanthropists like Weissgerber match funds to the community causes for which they are most passionate. To date, CTF has granted in excess of $675,000 for education and youth leadership in Garrett County, including projects like the Music at Penn Alps K-12 scholarship program, the Maryland Mountain Music institute held at Garrett College each summer, and the Garrett Engineering and Robotics Society (GEARS), among others.
“I have found the people of Garrett County to be incredibly resilient in the face of challenge and to possess an enviable pride in the remarkable beauty of their region and in their community,” states Marion Leonard, president of the CTF board.