Ben S. Weil

Born in Powderly, Alabama, 9-year-old Ben Weil was admitted to the Home with his older sister Fanny in November 1899. They were the last children admitted to the Home during the nineteenth century. At the time of admission, the children were living in Birmingham with their mother, the former Rosa Silverman, following the death of their father Isaac. The children lived in the Home until 1906 when they were discharged to their uncle, Emil Leeser of Birmingham.

Ben Weil

Undated photo of Ben Weil, courtesy of JCRS.

Ben Weil

Ben S. Weil, from the Encyclopedia of Alabama.

While in the Home, according to notes in the registry, Fanny distinguished herself as “intelligent, industrious, and well-behaved. Ben, too, left a favorable record. He played first cornet in the Home Band, which performed at the January 1905 dual celebrations to dedicate the Isidore Newman Manual Training School and honor the Home’s 50th anniversary. The next year, when the Home decided to extend the school’s curriculum beyond the original eight grades, headmaster James Addicott rated Bennie Weil among the few Home children he considered academically qualified to matriculate to the new high school. 

Although he was discharged before Newman’s high school opened, Ben embarked on a successful academic and business career. After graduating from Auburn University in 1910 with an electrical engineering degree, he worked for the Alabama Power Company before founding and serving as CEO of what became known as Mayer Electric Supply Company, one of the largest privately owned companies in Birmingham and one of the nation’s largest electrical distributors. Although Ben died in 1970 at age 79, his legacy endures at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat Business School in the form of the Ben S. Weil Endowed Chair of Industrial Distribution, launched in 2013 by his daughter and son-in-law.