Western Wear Pioneer and Icon Jack A. Weil Dies at Age 107

Jack A. Weil, founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear and the original snap button western shirt, died on Wednesday, August 13 in his Denver home.
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Jack A. Weil, founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear and the original snap button western shirt, died on Wednesday, August 13 in his Denver home.
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Jack A. Weil, founder of Rockmount Ranch Wear (www.rockmount.com/) and the original snap button western shirt, died on Wednesday, August 13 in his Denver home.

"Papa Jack's" imprint on cowboy fashion made him legendary, but the 107-year-old's hard work and personality on display everyday at his downtown Denver store, also made him an icon of the west. "The west is not a place. It's a state of mind," said Weil last year. The renowned statement proved his connection to the land of the cowboy, and showed off the perspective that helped him to establish the sawtooth pocket, diamond snap shirt that has come to define the cowboy through clothing.

Born in Evansville, Indiana, Weil and his wife Beatrice Baum moved to Denver in 1928 and founded Rockmount Ranch Wear in 1946. The three-generation company introduced the first western shirt, with snaps that helped to prevent snags while riding on the range and appease the cowboy who never liked to sew. The company also made the first commercially-produced bolo ties. Since the shirts helped to establish the cowboy image, Rockmount has been worn on the backs of everyone from Elvis Presley, to Robert Redford, to the attendees of past Republic National Conventions, and even congress members that will attend the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Weil's son and Rockmount executive, Jack B. Weil, passed away last January, but the two are survived by second generation Jane Romberg, five grandchildren (including Rockmount's current president Steve Weil), and 10 great-grandchildren.