[Skip to Content]

Lerbert H. Weir

1878 - 1949

Inducted October 1988

 "How shall we play? Let it be with freedom, with as little regimentation as possible. Let it be expressive of fundamental, natural urges, desires, and interests of human life.."
~Lerbert H. Weir

As the fi rst fi eld representative for the National Recreation Association (1910), Lebert Howard Weir provided technical assistance to communities across the country for more than 40 years. He was the nation’s foremost authority on municipal and county parks during his time. Weir’s career began as a probation offi cer in Cincinnati, OH, where he demonstrated the importance of playgrounds in reducing juvenile delinquency. During this time, he utilized his 30-acre farm as a recreation refuge for his boys club which reached a 2,500 membership. His expertise in recreation activities was coupled with a remarkable knowledge of plant life and the outdoors. This insight enabled him to gain wide support among park administrators, behavioral experts, and natural scientists.

Weir, through his fieldwork, publications, and speeches, was a key leader in bringing together the diverse views of many park and recreation administrators. According to early park pioneers, the prime function of a park was for recreation of a “passive, semi-active kind, the dominant ideal being peaceful enjoyment amid beautiful surroundings of a naturalistic kind.” Weir was instrumental in convincing leading park authorities to provide a broad range of recreation activities within park settings. Conversely, he was the chief spokesman and interpreter of the park movement to recreation administrators.

Weir directed a number of community recreation and park studies. Among his first studies were helping communities in California, Washington, and Oregon with assessing their needs to initiate and operate effective year-long programs. As a followup to the National Conference on Outdoor Recreation held in 1924, he was asked to head a major study of municipal and county park systems. This study, involving 2,700 municipalities and 40 counties, led to the publication of Parks: A Manual of Municipal and County Parks, which at the time was the most authoritative source of information on park management. Among Lebert Weir’s other scholarly contributions were Camping Out: A Manual of Organized Camping and Europe at Play, a report on the recreational patterns of people in a number of European countries.

Lebert H. Weir, left, with Mrs. Howard Babcock, Harry Hainsworth, Buffalo’s Director of Recreation.
National Recreation and Park Association Archives

During World War I he helped a number of communities organize their recreation services for service men on leave. In Chillicothe, OH, he successfully strengthened and enlarged the program, raised a half-million dollars and set up a model community for recreation. This center became the national training center for War Camp Community Service workers, the forerunner of the Chicago Training Institute of the National Recreation Association.

Weir’s work included service on a statewide, national and international scope. At the request of Governor John G. Winant, then chief executive of New Hampshire, he made a statewide recreation case study of that state. He also made vocational and rural recreation studies in his home state of Indiana. Weir was interested in helping to promote and serve state consultant services in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and in the establishment of recreation leadership courses in the institutions of higher learning in these states. He served as consultant to the National Resources Board of the Federal Government. At the invitation of the Governor of the Virgin Islands, he made studies and plans for parks and recreation in that territory.

Weir was a member of the American Recreation Society and was made a Fellow at its annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, in September 1948. He was also a Senior Fellow of the American Institute of Park Executives for many years. In January 1949, at the third Annual Recreation Meeting he received an “award of recognition of distinguished service in the fi eld of recreation.” Weir was again honored by his native state in October 1949, when the Indiana Municipal Park and Recreation Association presented him with a recognition plaque in absentia. In his death, November 13, 1949, the park and recreation movement lost a strong protagonist and realistic crusader who set an example of achievements which served as an inspiration to recreation leaders throughout the country.



Adapted from: Hartsoe, C, Sanders, D & Bridges, M (eds) (2009), Profiles in Leadership: Robert W. Crawford Recreation and Park Hall of Fame. National Recreation and Park Association and American Academy of Park and Recreation Administration.

  • Butler, G.D. (1965). Pioneers in public recreation. Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing Company.
  • National Recreation Association (December, 1949). “Lebert H. Weir.” Recreation. New York.

Return to list of inductees