The Passing of John Wetherbee

With no warning for those outside his immediate family, two weeks ago, longtime  WTOC-TV (Savannah) meteorologist, John Wetherbee’s sudden death began his ultimate silent journey upward, through darkened earthly skies, emerging in bright, welcoming light as he reached his well-earned place of eternal rest within God’s heavenly kingdom. His family’s desire was that his service and burial be private. While those wishes were honored, of course, by his many friends area-wide, such did restrict for all of us the opportunity to express, in person, remembrances to his wife and family, and to John, our heartfelt goodbyes and solemn farewell.

As WTOC-TV (Savannah) General Manager for most of his many years at the station, it was a great experience working alongside “Big” John (at 6’5” in height, his on-line persona), while he was both weeknight weather anchor and, ultimately, serving as the station’s Chief Meteorologist.  During those years, John was the most watched, and as such, the most popular, meteorologist in the Greater Savannah television market.  He was well known for his upbeat manner and his weather forecasting accuracy, which produced a strong element of trust adding, most certainly, to his audience appeal and the station’s market-leading ratings strength.

In addition to his on-air expertise and popularity, I well remember his willingness to volunteer to assist his fellow staff members with station-produced remote location functions or any other station public appearances, whether in the Greater Savannah area or in coverage-extending communities within nearby South Carolina.  John simply enjoyed those viewer-attracting appearances, no matter the day or time, providing him with the opportunity to meet and talk with members of our audience.  His winning personality on and off-air was always appreciated and long remembered.

Of note, John was equally popular with, and respected by, his fellow station staff members, just as he was with our viewers.  And as station managers (or any managers) know quite well, staff compatibility, especially with key on-air talent (or other key employees), is exceptionally important, and as those who manage also know, such is not always a given!

Throughout my 24-years as WTOC‘s GM, quite frankly, John is one of my very fondest colleague memories, due to his weather-science-smarts, his on-air expertise, his well-established forecasting accuracy, and his great upbeat and outgoing personality.  And, as he had thankfully remained in Savannah, after leaving the station, to take on his very large daily Georgia and other multi-state-radio-network forecasting duties, John and I have remained very close friends, for which I have been extremely grateful.

John Wetherbee was quite simply an excellent and effective veteran Georgia broadcaster, and the key to it all, is that he was such a superb meteorologist.  At the welcome request of John Wetherbee’s good friend, John Hart, now WSAV’s General Manager (Savannah), I was honored by the opportunity to add supportive thoughts about “Big” John’s performance to John Hart’s packet, which he then submitted in nomination for John Wetherbee’s candidacy, and ultimate selection(!), for the annual Georgia Association of Broadcasters’ prestigious Hall of Fame inductions.  While his untimely death has now, sadly, deprived him from attending his spotlight night at the upcoming Gala GAB ceremony, he will certainly be there in spirit as he is inducted into the very highly regarded Hall of Fame. And perhaps the best news, in the midst of our regret and sadness, is that “Big” John knew about his selection for this distinct state-wide broadcasting honor before he passed from our midst!  And for that awareness gift, sincerest thanks to WSAV’s GM, John Hart, for taking the lead on John Wetherbee’s candidacy submission.  It is a joy for his broadcaster friends to be aware that he at least knew about his successful selection for this impressive, well-deserved, industry honor, while still here among us.

Now totally free from all earthly concerns, pains, or worries, John Wetherbee has left us with an impressive record of accomplishments, thankfully creating for us, our fondest, most cherished, and longest lasting memories, held by all who knew him, but remain, as yet, here on earth. Rest in well-deserved peace and comfort with your wondrous Heavenly Father, John.  Do know, with absolute certainty, that you will be sorely missed by loved ones and untold numbers of friends, from this day forward and on throughout endless tomorrows.