2008 - MERITORIOUS
William DeWeese, State Representative
Waynesburg High School
Wake Forest University
Bill DeWeese is the only rural Democrat since World War II to serve as
Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the oldest elected
body in America. He was the first non-lawyer to be chairman of the House
Judiciary Committee in the modern era. As the House Minority Leader,
Bill DeWeese helped to reshape the agenda in the General Assembly to
reflect the needs of working families.
DeWeese was born April 18, 1950 in Pittsburgh and raised in rural Greene
County by his parents, Vic and Dotty. After receiving a history degree
from Wake Forest University, he joined the United States Marine Corps on
graduation day. He attended Officer Candidate School and served as an
active duty Marine officer from 1972 – 1975.
Upon returning to Greene County, DeWeese was elected to the State House
in a special election in 1976 and has served the 50th district (all of
Greene and parts of Fayette and Washington Counties) ever since. He is a
life member of the NAACP, the NRA and a member of the board of the
George C. Marshall Foundation.
Bill DeWeese’s ascent through the upper echelons of House Democratic
leadership began when he was elected by his colleagues as Majority Whip
in 1988. Upon the death of Speaker of the House, James J. Manderino,
DeWeese was elected House Majority Leader in January 1990, serving in
that position until his election to Speaker of the House for the 1993 –
1994 term. He became House Minority Leader in 1995 and is currently the
most senior ranking military veteran and House Majority Leader.
Bill lettered 4 years in baseball at Waynesburg High School. As team
captain, he led the 1968 team to the WPIAL playoffs and earned an
athletic scholarship to Wake Forest.
Although Bill did not pursue a career in sports, he feels they played a
vital role in developing his team and leadership skills.