‘Papa Jack’ Weil, who made the cowboy look classic, dies

The Economist has a nice obit on Jack Weil, the Denver cowboy who created a clothing line that brought Western couture to mainstream America. Weil, known as “Papa Jack,” died earlier this month at 107.

From the Economist:

His shirts, sold after 1946 through his company, Rockmount Ranch Wear, became extremely famous. The Premium Blue Flannel Plaid was worn by Ronald Reagan, and the Pink Gabardine by Bob Dylan. Eric Clapton liked the diamond-snap number; Robert Redford in “The Horse Whisperer” wore a rayon plaid. Mr Weil’s company clad Elvis Presley, John Travolta and almost everyone, gay or straight, in “Brokeback Mountain”. It also made the shirts, in red, white and blue, for the Colorado House delegation at this year’s Democratic convention. Mr Weil very narrowly missed seeing them, but that would not have troubled him. He thought that “any young man worth his salt” ought to be a Democrat; but that once he had a bit of money, the only way to keep hold of it was to turn Republican.

In his long, long life, Mr Weil accumulated plenty of simple business sense. He knew J.C. Penney, and thought him smart. Levi-Strauss was a nice fellow, but got too big for his britches; Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, was a “hillbilly son of a bitch”.

The Intermountain Jewish News elucidates Weil’s Jewish side:

“He taught us integrity and responsibility, the strength to deal with life’s challenges, the beauty of carefully chosen words in difficult situations, and the power of storytelling and example in conveying values,” they said. “His sage wisdom made us the better for it.”

Mr. Weil, who was honored by many industry associations,. was active in the Denver Jewish community, holding membership in B’nai Brith and helping sponsor several immigrants during WW II.

Jack and Bea joined Temple Emanuel in 1928, where he later served as a board member.

He was a founder and served as president of Temple Micah, and was a longtime supporter of Rose Hospital, National Jewish Hospital, JCRS and others.

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