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The Estate Society: A Shared Vision With Bob ’68 & Marilyn Weiss

The Estate Society: A Shared Vision With Bob ’68 & Marilyn Weiss

It begins and ends with a simple notion: gratitude.

"I love what Scranton did for me,” Bob Weiss ’68 said in August via Zoom as he sat next to his wife, Marilyn, in his home office in Pleasanton, California. “I owe what I have to what I learned there, pure and simple, so giving back is a big thing.”

One need only look at Robert and Marilyn Weiss Field at the Quinn Athletics Campus or The Robert and Marilyn Weiss Pediatric Low Vision Research and Training Suite to see how “big of a thing” giving back truly is to the couple, and they tend to operate like a human pair of binoculars, marrying two complementary perspectives into one shared vision for the future.

Strangely enough, it’s been that way since the very beginning, when Bob, a farm boy from Lake Ariel, met Marilyn Chesick, a city girl from South Side, at a “U Dance” at the Gunster Memorial Student Center in 1966. At the time, Bob, the first person in his family to go to college, studied accounting at Scranton through its ROTC program, and Marilyn would soon begin taking classes at the University, from chemistry to medical ethics, through a partnership with the Scranton State General Hospital School of Nursing. Marilyn’s studies inspired Bob to serve in the Army Medical Service Corps as a medical supply officer in Vietnam, where he rose to the rank of captain and was awarded two Bronze Stars and the Army Commendation Medal.

Bob and Marilyn married in Hawaii shortly before he left active duty. The couple moved to New York City, where Marilyn began working as a nurse (and later, head nurse) at the Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. Bob became a certified public accountant and began working for The Cooper Companies, a multinational manufacturer and marketer of health care products, including contact lenses, and his background in medical supply helped position him for rapid advancement.


"I love what Scranton did for me." - Bob Weiss ’68


The couple had three children and moved to Pleasanton, California, one year ahead of Cooper’s settlement in Palo Alto, and Marilyn began working as a pediatric nurse. During his 40-plus years with Cooper, Bob moved up the corporate ladder, eventually rising to president and CEO; along the way, Cooper had a number of industry-defining breakthroughs, including the development of intraocular lenses, or lenses implanted directly into the eye, and the creation of Lasik surgery, two advancements that have helped millions see more clearly.

The University honored Bob with the Frank J. O’Hara Award in 2008. In 2015, the couple made a $1.25 million gift to the University that resulted in the creation of The Robert and Marilyn Weiss Pediatric Low Vision Research and Training Suite, a facility that embodies their shared vision for a better tomorrow, and Bob joined Scranton’s Board of Trustees later that same year. In 2016, the couple made a $1 million gift to what is today known as the Quinn Athletics Campus, and, a few days after Bob retired as president and CEO of Cooper in April of 2018, he and Marilyn attended the official opening of Robert and Marilyn Weiss Field a few blocks away from the house where Marilyn grew up.

Two complementary perspectives, one shared vision, and none of it would have been possible without that “U Dance” in 1966, and a common interest in giving back. Bob, who remains the chair of Cooper’s board of directors, said it was the time he spent studying philosophy under the Rev. Edward Gannon, S.J., that truly shaped his worldview, providing him with a sort of intraocular lens for his mind’s eye.

“I kind of adopted who I am from what I learned in philosophy,” he said. “How you do business, and how you conduct yourself, is all about — and we don’t use these terms enough these days — morality and ethics.

“(The humanities) become more and more important as life goes on.”

For helpful planning tools, articles and spotlights on Estate Society members, please visit our website scranton.edu/plannedgiving. For personalized illustrations or options, contact Carol Maculloch, director of Planned Giving, at carol.maculloch@scranton.edu or 570.941.7799.

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