Amid the quiet hills and streams of northeastern Kansas, Robert Weary ’48 has forged a dynamic dual career: running the Junction City law firm his father founded, and buying and building up companies, especially in the cable TV and radio industries.
Weary is of counsel at the firm his father, U. S. Weary, started solo, now called Weary, Davis, Henry, Struebing, Troup & Kaus, L.C. His business law and tax practice leaves less time than he’d like for entrepreneurship. “But I’ve always enjoyed the law, so I could never talk myself into giving it up,” he says.
Robert Weary was born and raised in Junction City, in a family of six children. At his mother’s suggestion he tried for a Harvard scholarship, succeeded, and liked the College so well that he urged his younger brothers, Thomas ’50 and Daniel ’52, to apply. They did and later followed their brother again, to Harvard Law School. The result: a rare family trio of matching Harvard degrees.
After graduating from the College in the accelerated wartime program, Weary enrolled in the Air Force cadet program, then received training in P-40, P-39, P-63, and P-38 fighter planes. He married Dale Jellison in 1944, just six months before going overseas. He flew 105 combat missions in the Pacific theater in the twin-engine P-38.
The combat pilot enjoyed 17 days of peacetime before embarking in January 1946 on the year-round program of postwar HLS. “It was a tough experience,” he recalls, “since my wife and I would have enjoyed a little vacation.” He valued his professors, particularly Erwin Griswold ’28 S.J.D. ’29, who taught him Taxation. “I managed to wangle an A.”
After graduation, Weary joined Kansas City’s largest law firm. He was settling into his tax practice when the Air Force recalled him for the Korean War. He trained briefly in jet fighters before his assignment to JAG, serving first as defense counsel and then prosecutor.
Returning to civilian life, Weary “had a hankering to get into business,” so he passed up the partnership at his old firm, joined his father in Junction City, and hunted for investments on the side. In 1957, he and a partner started a modest cable TV operation and built it into the 30th largest in the country by the time they sold it in 1978. Subsequently Weary developed and sold three other cable companies; a radio company with stations in Ft. Lauderdale, Dallas, San Antonio, and Orlando; and a cellular telephone company.
Even in peacetime Weary’s piloting skills came in handy. With his cable operations located in far-flung towns, he began flying himself to work.
Weary was a board member of the National Cable Television Association for several years, and served on the committee that negotiated the industry’s first copyright law in 1976. He was also president of the Kansas Cable Association; president of the Mid-America Cable Association; an active industry lobbyist; and a founder of the influential National Cable Television Cooperative, a purchasing agent for mostly smaller companies, which collectively serve nine million subscribers. In recognition of his business leadership, the governor of Kansas appointed Weary to a special committee on telecommunications.
At present Weary’s business investments include substantial interests in a local radio station, a cable TV company in Mexico, and a small telephone company. He recently helped start up and sell an aluminum boat company.
Reflecting on his personal loyalties, Weary says, “Education and Harvard have always been dear to my heart. For over 40 years I’ve interviewed all candidates for the College from the western two-thirds of Kansas.” He serves on the Committee for University Resources. With his wife, Dale, he endowed a Harvard Professorship in the Humanities and recently established a sizable lead charitable trust to benefit the Law School and the College.