Former WLP Professor Ted Weesner.
His cause of death was congestive heart failure, according to the Times, citing Weesner’s son, former WLP faculty member Theodore Weesner Jr., MFA ’96.
Weesner was an associate professor at Emerson from 1988 to 1994, acting chair of WLP from 1993 to 1994, and professor from 1994 to 1996.
Weesner is remembered for authoring several novels, including The Car Thief, True Detective, Novemberfest, and Winning the City.
His first novel, The Car Thief, was the most celebrated of his career. The coming-of-age story was published in 1972 after excerpts were published in magazines such as The New Yorker, Esquire, and The Atlantic Monthly.
A native of Flint, Michigan, Weesner served in the U.S. Army in Germany and was a 1959 graduate of Michigan State University and a 1965 graduate of the University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop.
Weesner was hired for a teaching position at the University of New Hampshire in 1965. He also taught at Carnegie Mellon University before joining Emerson.
The inspiration behind The Car Thief came from Weesner’s difficult childhood, according to articles in the Times and Telegram & Gazette. Weesner said in interviews that he was born to an alcoholic father and teenage mother who placed him in foster care as a baby. As a teenager, he found his father’s body after he had committed suicide.
Weesner never graduated from high school and lied about his age to join the Army at age 17.
Among Weesner’s survivors are his wife, Janet Schofield; his three children from his first marriage, Theodore Jr., Anna, and Steven; and five grandsons.
Services and burial are private.