Inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, 2002

Growing up in Hartford, Wiesen attended both Weaver High School and West Hartford’s Hall High School, playing basketball and running track at both schools. He was the captain of Weaver’s only swim team in 1936. In between his sports activities, he worked in his father’s sporting goods store in West Hartford. He learned table tennis by playing with customers in the store on Asylum Street and played in many local table tennis tournaments; in 1940 he gave an exhibition at Hartford Public High School.

During World War II, he served for 44 months in 8th & 12th U.S. Air Force and was discharged with the rank of Staff Sergeant, having served in England, Africa, Italy and Sicily, Trinidad and Puerto Rico. He represented the 12th Air Force in table tennis tournaments in North Africa and Italy. Upon his return he worked for his father and then for other family members in the glass business, later opening his own glass business. He and his wife Lorraine acted as advisors to the clubs at the Lawrence Street Settlement House.

Wiesen was chair of athletics at the Jewish Community Center for 22 years, during which time the Center’s youth athletics programs became “the place to be” for youth sports. Athletics offerings included men’s varsity basketball, touch football in Keney Park, intramurals for junior high students, and a basketball league for younger children. With the assistance of Bill Slitt, Wiesen led Little League teams to the West Hartford championship in softball.

Wiesen was honored for fifty years of consecutive service to the Jewish Community Center, which included many roles beyond athletics programs, and was also an active fundraiser for the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and the Jonathan’s Dream playground. He was a founding member of Beth El Temple and of the Beth El Men’s Club, and chair of athletics there. He helped form the United Synagogue Youth with the late Rabbi Morris Silverman. He was a founding member of Hartford Mayor George Athanson’s “All-American Council,” which celebrated residents of different ethnic backgrounds and offered programs in their native languages.

An avid golfer, Wiesen ran golf tournaments for Rocky Reale in which funds for scholarships were raised for high school students allied with the glass industry.
A life director of the Jewish Historical Society, Wiesen served as co-chair of the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the Dr. Morris Cohen Youth Athletic Awards. His name was frequently raised for induction into the Hall of Fame, but he refused the recognition until 2002.

Image courtesy Hartford Courant