February 28, 2005
Don was born and raised in the Seattle area, one of four boys. In the eight grade, he entered the seminary in Seattle. He was ordained in 1969. His assignments included Assistant pastor in Renton and Vancouver and Campus Ministry 1975-1982 at Western Washington University, Bellingham WA. In 1982-1984, he did graduate studies in psychology. He transitioned in 1985 and Mary Beth O'Neil, a private practice family counselor. A head injury while in San Juan around 2000 led to Don's retirement. He died suddenly of a heart attack on February 28, 2005.
Don Roger Werner
It is an understatement to say that Don 'Roger' Wemer, former priest, counselor and self-proclaimed 'Mayor of Wedgwood' touched many people's lives. Few who encountered him left feeling that they weren't the most important person that Don talked to that day. His genuine interest in people and the simple, everyday occur- rences of life, coupled with his considerable gregarious nature, transformed every life event and personal encounter into some- thing special, profound and even sacred.
Don, known as, 'Rog' to his family, was born to Leatrice and Don Wemer on December 21,1943. He spent his early years living with his mother and grandpar- ents while his father was off fighting in WWII. That experience, along with close proximity to many cousins, aunts and uncles while growing up in White Center, instilled in him a strong sense of family and community. He attended Holy Family School in White Center, and entered St. Edwards seminary in Kenmore his freshman year of high school. As a seminarian, he became quite beloved by many as a director in the CYO Camping and Mountaineering program. After gaining a divinity degree from adjacent St. Thomas seminary, he was ordained to the Catholic priesthood at St. James cathedral on May 17,1969. He presided over countless major life eventsbirths, weddings and deathsas a parish priest, first at St. Anthony in Renton, and then at St. Joseph in Vancouver, Washington. As a priest, his passion was always for the ministerial aspects of his work and the celebrations of major life events. This led eventually to a seven-year stint as a campus minister at Western Washington University in Bellingham. At each of these stops on his way through life, he made many close, life long friends. After a sabbatical, during which Don earned a second masters degree in psychology, he married Mary Beth O'Neill in April 1986.
Having left the priesthood, Don's life still centered around marking the major events of people's lives, often officiating at the marriages of people whom he had baptized years before. He worked in a private family therapy practice, and then as bachelor degree admissions director at The Leadership Institute of Seattle until 1999. In September of that year while visiting his beloved San Juan Islands, Don suffered a serious brain injury in a moped accident. While disabled to a degree that precluded fulltime employment, he made a remarkable recovery, with his generous spirit fully intact, Mary Beth and Don made their home in the Wedgwood neighborhood of North Seattle. They remodeled their home to include a large, covered porch from where Don "presided" over his neighborhood, befriending many neighbors who often diverted from their strolls to sit and chat. Don spent his last years volunteering, acting as celebrant for occasional weddings and funerals and corresponding daily by phone, email or personal visits with the countless people whom he befriended along the many intersecting roads of his life,
Don died suddenly at home, on his beloved porch, on February 28,2005, of cardiac arrest. He leaves behind his wife Mary Beth, all five of his younger brothers, who- knows-how- many cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles, and a countless circle of friends and colleagues, all of whom will now have to find the joy and the sacred in life's simple events without the illumination of this generous and loving man.