Edward Weidenfeld (1943-2022)
By January 5, 2023 0 1123•
With a resume that is impressive for even the most seasoned of Washingtonians, Edward L. Weidenfeld worked for six presidents and founded his own law firm, Weidenfeld Law Firm, P.C. He was often seen as the living embodiment of public service, having served on positions at both the national and international levels. He passed away last week at the age of 79 from complications of Parkinson’s disease.
He received his law degree from Columbia Law School and his bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin. He was also elected a lifetime member of the American Law Institute.
Weidenfeld was especially fond of President Ronald Reagan, a man he admired both personally and politically. Weidenfeld was general counsel to the Reagan 1980 presidential campaign. Sheila Rabb Weidenfeld, his wife of over 50 years, was press secretary to former first lady Betty Ford and hosted the TV show “Panorama.” The couple called Georgetown home since 1971 and lived mostly recently on Q Street.
In addition to his work with Reagan, Weidenfeld held advisory positions on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships and the Council of the Administrative Conference of the U.S. He was co-counsel to the Democracy Project, which eventually designed the National Endowment for Democracy. Weidenfeld helped with the return of Major League Baseball to Cuba in 1999 and before that, negotiated the first free exchange between the U.S. media and the Soviet news agency. He also represented the government of South Africa following the election of President Nelson Mandela.
“Ed was a mentor to so many,” said Georgetowner publisher Sonya Bernhardt of Weidenfeld. “Often, we met for lunch at one of his favorite places, the Metropolitan Club, where he encouraged and advised me. Ed had a lot of difficult health issues but never stopped being the optimistic, positive guy he always was. And like so many, my heart is broken for him and his family.”
In his later years, Weidenfeld was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He turned to something he admittedly knew little about — medical marijuana — to relieve symptoms like tremors and anxiety. He told The Georgetowner that while he had regular medication, cannabis addressed and augmented things that medicine couldn’t treat.
He ended up founding District Cannabis along with Andras Kirschner, who founded an 80-acre organic vegetable farm in Vermont and later relocated to California to work with and train other cannabis cultivators. Weidenfeld, along with Kirschner, made it their mission to grow the cleanest, most effective medicine possible.
“All of that, I suppose, that’s not bad for a guy that grew up in a small town in the Midwest, in Akron,” Weidenfeld told the Georgetowner’s late Gary Tischler in 2019.