He was recognized Monday as an absolute rock of stability.
After all, he has owned the Lodi News-Sentinel for half a century now.
But Frederick Eugene Weybret, 85, was celebrated for much more on Monday.
He was hailed as a good friend and a doting husband, parent and grandparent. As a community icon and benefactor.
And as a business owner whose acuity is helping the newspaper survive tumultuous times.
"You are a good man," Lodi Mayor Larry Hansen said simply, as he presented a resolution to Weybret. "Our community is lucky you chose to own a newspaper here."
Weybret enjoys a singular distinction: He is the longest-standing owner of the longest continuously operating business in San Joaquin County.
Soft-spoken and unpretentious, he is an old-school newspaper owner. He can crunch numbers, lay out page one and stick a wrench into the innards of a broken press.
Weybret has relinquished the title of publisher to his eldest son, but continues as chairman of the family owned corporation.
He still comes into the newspaper each day. He pores over invoices, scrutinizes each story with a copy editor's eye and, when needed, climbs aboard a forklift to take delivery of newsprint.
Weybret was born in San Francisco and raised near Salinas, where his father was a member of the state legislature and the owner of what is now the Salinas Californian.
Before taking over the News-Sentinel, Weybret worked variously as a cattle rancher, mine operator, labor contractor and fraud investigator. He and his wife, Alcyon, raised their family in Lodi. They have two sons, Marty and Jim, and four grandchildren, Robbie, Mike, Kate and Juliet.
As a newspaper owner and publisher, he has served his community and industry. Weybret is a former president of the Lodi Chamber of Commerce, a former president of the California Newspaper Publishers Association and a current board member of the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District.
On Monday, the newspaper warehouse was converted into a social hall of sorts, complete with balloons and refreshments. A spoof edition of the News-Sentinel was circulated, marking 50 years of Weybret's ownership - as well as his penchant for playing poker, fishing and cooking up prize-winning chili.
Weybret was a founder of the Lodi Boys and Girls Club, and has given generously to it. Richard Jones, the club's CEO, was in attendance to offer a bushel of thank you cards from the children.
"Our club is here today because of what he's done for our club and the kids of our community," Jones said.
Assemblywoman Alyson Huber cited Weybret's stewardship of good journalism.
"Thank you for sustaining a daily newspaper as vibrant as the News-Sentinel," she said.
Marty Weybret, News-Sentinel publisher, thanked his father for being a wise mentor, a caring father, a devoted husband and a loving grandfather.
When it was his time to speak, Weybret was predictably succinct.
"I've made so many wonderful friends here. I've loved working for the community," he said.
"I've had a rewarding life."
Quotes about Fred WeybretFollowing are quotes regarding Fred Weybret, who on Monday celebrated 50 years of owning the Lodi News-Sentinel:
On taking a personal interest in his employees:
"When I worked as a paperboy, we had a contest and the winners
got a trip to see the Giants in San Francisco. Fred drove us over
himself. We had a ball, and afterwards he took us to Chinatown and
we had a great dinner."
Danny Heller, retired News-Sentinel compositor and paper carrier
On being steadfast:
"I feel honored to work for Fred and Marty. People like me,
frankly, come and go. But Fred and Marty are so enduring. Does that
make me feel bad? No. It makes me feel proud to be a part of all
Kimberly Anger, advertising director
On having a good temperment for water issues:
"He's got the perfect personality for dealing with water. He
never gets angry. He never loses his focus. And he never loses
Ed Steffani, manager of the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District, where Weybret serves as a board member
On being a hard-working neighbor:
"It doesn't matter what time I get up - 4, 5, 6, - Fred's
already up and working on some project.
Russ Munson, Weybet's long-time Lodi neighbor
On his keen eye:
"He's probably our only client who actually reads all the
documents, understands them, and even edits them."
Richard Calone, lawyer
On his role as grandfather:
"He's always there for us, always ready to go fishing or camping
or play cribbage."
Mike Weybret, grandson
On an abrupt experience with a tree:
"We were skiing some years ago. We headed down this slope, wide
open except for a single tree. I skied down first, then looked
back. Fred zig-zagged back and forth, then aimed right for the tree
and smacked into it. I went back up and said, 'Fred, there is only
one tree on this whole run, how could you hit it?' He looked up at
me and said, 'I was mesmerized.'"
Leonard Thompson, grape grower and Weybret pal
On his 'cut-to-the-chase' ability:
"When we'd have (Delta college scholarship) foundation meetings,
Fred was the one who offered up the wisdom. The guy everyone would
listen to. And the guy who, if we strayed a bit, would get us back
Claire Tyson, retired director of finance, Delta College
On his prowess as a card player:
"Well, he's a better poker player than I am, that's for
Wally Kalthof, retired Sentinel manager
On bringing jobs to the community:
"Not many people know it, but Fred was instrumental in bringing
a horseshoe factory to town. (It has since closed.) He felt it
would bring jobs to the community. He did all the work. We just
listened to what he had to say."
Irvin Bender, real estate investor, long-time News-Sentinel reader
On his approach to business:
"The one word that comes to my mind is 'integrity.'"
Theresa Larson, director of administration
On his sometimes-gritty/hands-on demeanor:
"We had a new reporter who was working a weekend. She was
startled to see a fellow wander through in grubby, greasy jeans.
The scruffy guy sort of raised his hand, said 'hi' and kept on
moving. She was wondering who this strange man was. She found out
later it was Fred - the owner of the paper was in on a weekend
working on the press."
Christi Kennedy-Weybret, daughter-in-law
"He'll still climb up to check out something on the roof."
Matt Silva, maintenance supervisor
On his problem-solving ability:
"Fred has the wonderful ability to hear a problem, pause in deep
thought, and then respond to the problem with a truly logical and
methodical explanation to solving the problem."
Gary Greider, circulation manager
On his low-key philanthropy:
"He is probably the quietest, most generous man I know."
Phil Lenser, financial adviser
On his ability as a chef:
"He makes a great ceviche. On our fishing trips, he brings along
wax peppers and lime juice. We all catch the fish, Fred slices them
up, adds the wax pepper juice and the lime juice, lets it all
marinate, and it turns out just great. … Fred is a fine outdoorsman
and a fine horseman."
Larry Mettler, Lodi vintner and fishing/outdoors buddy
On his collection of general knowledge:
"What's the old saying about people who know a little about a lot of things?
Well, Fred knows a lot about a lot of things. I recall going to
Marty once and saying, 'you know, your dad kind of irks me. He's so
smart about everything he makes me feel stupid.' And Marty said:
'How do you think it feels to be his son?'"
Dan Battilana, retired advertising director