By Tim Tesconi
The Sonoma County agriculture community is mourning – and fondly remembering – Art Weyers III, who was the owner of Art Weyers Insurance and a staunch supporter of the Sonoma County farmers and ranchers whom he considered friends as well as clients.
Art passed away Nov. 6 at his rural Sebastopol home while stacking firewood with his son. He was 66. His unexpected death stunned the community and left a void at the Sonoma County Farm Bureau building where Art was a shining fixture for more than 30 years.
It was testament to Art’s place in the community that more than 500 people attended his funeral mass on Nov. 11 at St. Sebastian’s Catholic Church in Sebastopol. Following the service, Art’s family and friends gathered at one of his favorite places, the Union Hotel in Occidental, to celebrate his remarkable life. Friends and family toasted Art’s legacy with a glass of red wine - his signature drink and the symbol he equated with the good life in Sonoma County.
Art was eulogized for his love of family, caring ways, spirituality, enduring friendships and his farmer’s work ethic. He was the first one to enter the building on Piner Road each work day, which for him included Saturdays. Passing in the halls, Art was always quick with a kind word, punctuated with his irresistible smile and twinkling eyes. He didn’t have a mean or malicious bone in his body and lived by the adage that if you can’t say something nice about someone, saying nothing at all. He worked hard but was buoyed by a boundless love of family, friends and the community he loved and served.
"Art was just an amazing person, so dedicated ... one of Sonoma County agriculture's strongest advocates," said Lex McCorvey, executive director of Sonoma County Farm Bureau. “Art cared about people deeply and he loved working with the farmers and ranchers. He appreciated farmers’ hard work, and he worked just as hard running his insurance business that served many farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses.”
Sonoma County livestock rancher Joe Pozzi, president of Sonoma County Farm Bureau, said Art was a man of many dimensions whose spirituality came through in every pore of his being. Pozzi had known Art for more than 30 years and had come to appreciate and value his infectious optimism and abiding spirit.
“Art always had a positive perspective on life. Whenever I visited with Art, I would walk away contemplating what he had said, because he always made you think about what’s really important in life,” said Pozzi. “He will truly be missed in the agriculture community where he was such a beloved and important figure.”
In 2007, Sonoma County Farm Bureau named Art Weyers the Friend of Farm Bureau in recognition of his continued contributions to the Farm Bureau and the agricultural community. Art was Farm Bureau’s most ardent supporter and goodwill ambassador. He used very opportunity to promote Farm Bureau because he believed the agricultural organization played a crucial part in preserving the county’s farms and ranches.
“Farm Bureau plays an important role in keeping agriculture part of Sonoma County and agriculture is what makes Sonoma County such a special place. Farm Bureau works in many areas to keep our beautiful county from becoming another San Jose,” Art said in accepting the 2007 Friend of Farm Bureau Award.
Art went on to say that if he had his way every person moving too Sonoma County would be required to take a crash course about Farm Bureau and what the organization does to preserve and promote the county’s $3 billion farming industry.
“If more people knew what Farm Bureau does they would join and support its efforts on behalf of agriculture,” he said.
It’s no wonder that Art was a revered and treasured friend in the halls of Sonoma County Farm Bureau. His longevity in the Farm Bureau building, first as a Cal Farm Insurance agent and then as an independent insurance agent and the owner of Art Weyers Insurance, gave him an insider’s view of Farm Bureau and its leadership. He worked with everyone from Farm Bureau executive secretary Edith Sanford in the 1970’s to Lex McCorvey, who is executive director today. In between there were executive directors who included Gary Kimmel, Judy Rodgers and Judy James.
F. Arthur Weyers was born July 5, 1945, in San Francisco. As a young boy, he lived at the Hanna Boys Center, and then joined the Sonoma family of Louis and Helen Minelli.
He attended St. Francis Solano Catholic School and then Sonoma Valley High School, graduating in 1964. In 1968, he married high school classmate Sherry Thomsen.
Art attended Santa Rosa Junior College and studied business, eventually moving into a management position with Hasting’s Men’s Clothing. Art and Sherry moved to Clayton for about a year while Art worked at Hasting's Walnut Creek store. But in 1968, after returning to Sonoma, they became part-owners of Carlson's, a small department store that was a Sebastopol landmark.
There, from 1969 to 1976, Art worked as the buyer in the men's, boy's and shoe departments.
His career took a turn in 1975 when he entered the insurance field and became an agent with Farm Bureau’s CalFarm Insurance, which is now part of Nationwide Insurance.
When CalFarm became part of Nationwide in 1995, Art opened his own office in the Farm Bureau Building where he was a beloved fixture and the building’s resident historian until his death.
A devoted father, he coached soccer for all three of his children's teams and, as a board member of the Twin Hills School District, signed each of their eighth-grade diplomas.
Art was a member of the Cursillo, a faith-based ecumenical movement with a retreat in Sonoma County. He and Sherry said Cursillo was the foundation of their lives.
In addition to his wife Sherry, Art is survived by his Scott Weyers of Cotati and Christian Weyers of Mill Valley; and his daughter-in-law, Monica Weyers, and grandson, Osiris Weyers, also of Mill Valley. Art’s daughter, Jenna Weyers, died in 2010.
Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County has established the Art Weyers Memorial Scholarship in honor of this wonderful man and true friend of agriculture. Contributions to the Weyers Scholarship Fund can be sent to Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County, 3589 Westwind Blvd., Santa Rosa, Calif. 95403.