Glenwood remembers native son, cowboy doctor Jim Weaver
Friends, family and associates of Jim Weaver pause this weekend to pay respects and honor the legacy of one of Glenwood Springs’ own who went off to attend an Ivy League school, got his medical degree and eventually returned to his hometown to practice as an orthopaedic surgeon.
Weaver died Sept. 20 in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he and his wife of 41 years, Kathie, had retired in recent years. He was 88.
He was born James Kilburn Weaver in Fort Collins on April 8, 1929, to Jess and Saville Weaver. The family moved to Glenwood Springs when he was an infant, and his father built a summer cabin in the Flat Tops along No Name Creek.
The Jess Weaver Trail leading from No Name is named after Jim’s dad, who died in a horseback riding accident during the high water season in 1978. His son spearheaded the effort to get the Forest Service to build a bridge over the dangerous creek crossing where Jess died.
Jim Weaver graduated in 1947 from high school in Glenwood Springs, where he excelled in both academics and sports.
“We went all through school together, and had a lot of good times in high school,” said Glenwood native Carleton “Hub” Hubbard.
“Back in grade school there were six of us who started what we called the ‘dirty half dozen club,’” Hubbard said. “We were always together and just good friends, and we knew that if one of us needed help there would be five others there to lend a hand.”
Hubbard and Weaver stayed in touch when Weaver left Glenwood after high school to go to Harvard University. There, he was captain of the Harvard Ski Team and became a ski jumper.
He returned to Colorado and earned his medical degree at the University of Colorado, where he completed his orthopaedic residency. He then did a year fellowship at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and returned to CU as an assistant professor. He also served in the U.S. Air Force from 1962-66.
“After he got into the medical field, we would always keep up and get together to cross country ski together, fish, raft, whatever,” said Hubbard, who will be one of the speakers at a celebration of life for Weaver planned for Sunday at the Red Barn Guest Ranch in Silt, starting at 2 p.m.
Weaver specialized in total joint replacement surgery, children’s orthopaedics and sports medicine. A shoulder reconstruction surgery still used today is known as the “Weaver-Dunn Procedure.”
He ran the Carrier Tingley Hospital for Crippled Children in New Mexico for two years, and was named chief of the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where he spent many years training young residents and fellows.
He married Kathleen Freeman Weaver in 1976. They moved to Aspen and started Aspen Orthopaedic Associates with Dr. Bob Oden, and the couple traveled with the U.S. Ski Team for several years.
They later moved down to Glenwood Springs and opened Aspen Orthopaedics of Glenwood Springs and Aspen for the remainder of Weaver’s orthopaedic career.
It was then that Dr. Robert Derkash, a longtime Valley View Hospital surgeon, came to know Weaver personally.
“Everything I learned in orthopaedic medicine I owe to Jim, who always had a better way to fix something,” Derkash said. “He was just a gem of a good person and treated all of his patients with respect.”
The Weavers eventually relocated to Fruita, where he raised buffalo and started Rocky Mountain Orthopaedic Group in Grand Junction.
He was involved in numerous medical organizations, including serving as president of the Western Orthopaedic Society, representing orthopaedic surgeons in the entire western third of the United States. He also helped start the Western Slope Chapter of Orthopaedists in Colorado.
In addition, Jim and his dad, Jess Weaver, were charter members of the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, and Jim was a board member until shortly before his death.
After returning to Colorado from Harvard, Jim married Norma Benedict from Glenwood Springs. They had three children, Sally, Jess and Jill.
He is survived by his second wife, Kathie, daughter Sally and two grandsons, Jess and James. He is pre-deceased by his parents Jess and Saville, a son and daughter from his first marriage, Jess Jr. and Jill, and a niece, Priscilla Freeman.
A complete obituary appeared in the Oct. 1 edition of the Post Independent.