Fells Community Spotlight: Bob Weggel
Image: 2004 (or later): Bob Weggel in front of his rock steps on the Skyline Trail, east of Dike Brook Road
A guest post by Anita Brewer-Siljeholm and Fells Staff
From 2004 until 2009, you may have spied on the Skyline or Reservoir Trail between Money Hill and Gerry Hill a friendly older fellow with a sturdy spade, rock-bar, and large Gardenway cart mining boulders, laying stepping stones, constructing stone staircases, or building causeways, some of which included crushed stone hauled from the Bear Hill parking area. You might have encountered him—and might still—with handsaw and lopping shears attacking invasive species such as bittersweet and rosa multiflora. He’s rarely without a bag for trash, or a pruning shears and folding saw for brushing trail. This is Bob Weggel, a 77-year-old resident of Reading.
Bob and his wife Diane were first introduced to the Middlesex Fells Reservation as volunteers for a Massachusetts Audubon scarlet tanager survey soon after their marriage in 1980. A few decades later, underemployed, Bob began trail work on weeklong Volunteer Vacations for the American Hiking Society. His early trail work in the Fells was as a Trail Adopter for the Appalachian Mountain Club. In March of 2009, Mike Ryan, former Friends director, came across Bob hard at work; soon thereafter, Bob accepted an invitation to join the Friends of the Fells Board, markedly increasing his financial commitment to the organization. In 2013, Bob established the R.J. Weggel Fund for the Friends of the Middlesex Fells Reservation, growing the fund year after year by matching gifts to the summer and winter fundraising appeals.
Bob’s passion for conservation grew from camping for a week or two each summer in Michigan. Michigan’s flatness—and the excitement of the Mt. Everest expeditions of 1952 and 1953—triggered a love of mountains, subsequently nurtured by visits to the Alps when living in eastern France and southwestern Germany as a young boy. Trained in applied mathematics at M.I.T. and Harvard, he worked for the MIT National Magnet Laboratory until 1996, for Brookhaven National laboratory for a half-dozen years, and designs magnets for numerous clients.
Bob effuses sheer delight, whether the subject is trail repair, climbing a mountain, designing magnets for electric power from nuclear fusion, or rockwork at his seasonal home on the shore of Casco Bay. “My world is magnet design, mountains and conservation,” he notes. “I’ve been very fortunate, that by diligent work, frugality, and forgoing children (the world is overpopulated already), I’ve been able to accumulate an estate large enough to make a difference to a budget as modest as that of the Friends. Donating to the Fells helps me to feel significant.”
To acclimatize for Volunteer Vacations in the Rockies, Bob has climbed all but a dozen of Colorado’s 53 distinct peaks more than 14,000 feet high. Ask him his favorite places in the Fells? “The Skyline and Rock Circuit Trails, of course: Winthrop Hill, Nanepashemet Hill, Boojum Rock, Pinnacle Hill, White Rock,the Cascades.” For a recent college reunion he wrote, “Who would have imagined that I, such an egghead when at high school, would find such satisfaction in climbing mountains and wrestling boulders into position? It’s that I, once such a dud of an athlete, rejoice in the ability to do so!”
Thank you, Bob!