Oliver L. "Lee" Weller, former owner of several Westminster auto repair businesses and a drag-racer during the 1970s, died Jan. 13 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at his home in Cope, S.C. He was 73.
The son of George Weller, a contractor, and Catherine Eckar Roop, a homemaker, Oliver Lee Weller was born in Hanover, Pa., and raised in Westminster, where he graduated in 1960 from Westminster High School.
Mr. Weller served in the Army in Europe from 1961 to 1964 as a combat demolition specialist with the 1st Engineers, and later with the 1st Infantry Division in Germany. He was discharged with the rank of specialist.
He returned to Westminster and opened Hilltop Esso, a filling station, and in 1969 established Westminster Speed and Automotive. A decade later, he founded Lee's Automotive. In 1990, he opened Lee Weller Auto Service.
Mr. Weller had been a top fuel dragster driver from 1976 to 1977 for Jim and Alison Lee of Plains, Va.
In 1977, he finished second in the nation in the International Hot Rod Association division and 10th in the National Hot Rod Association Division. He won the National Hot Rod Association Southeast Division Championship in 1977 and 1978.
In 1978, in collaboration with Lon Edwards, Mr. Weller established his own top fuel team. He was inducted into the National Hot Road Association's Southeast Division Hall of Fame in 2005.
Mr. Weller retired in 2004 and moved with his wife to Burlington, Va., where he raised cattle and grew hay. Since 2009, he had lived in Cope.
He was also an avid woodworker and gardener.
Mr. Weller was a former member of Grace Lutheran Church in Westminster and was a Master Mason and a member of Masonic Lodge 175.
A celebration of Mr. Weller's life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Pritts Funeral Home, 412 Washington Road, Westminster.
Mr. Weller is survived by his wife of 52 years, the former Mary Catherine Steinberg; two sons, Gregory S. Weller of Westminster and Christopher T. Weller of Hanover, Pa.; a daughter, Lisa M. Hoover of Westminster; two grandsons; and two great-grandchildren. Another son, Chad Lee Weller, died in 2000.