Ethan Weiser was going to own two restaurants, both dragon-themed.
He was going to college to study hospitality or business.
He was going to get his driver’s permit.
He was going to stay up too late at his grandparents’ playing Halo, Fortnight and Call of Duty and then try to sleep all day.
He was probably never going to clean his room.
Weiser was 15.
On Aug. 26, the third Friday of his sophomore year at Largo High School, Weiser was hit and killed by a car while crossing Clearwater’s Belleair Road on the way to his bus stop. His family and community are now pushing to make that road and bus stops around the state safer.
They’re doing it for a young man who was going to do big things.
This is the person they remember.
He was going to build, make and sell something
For several years, Weiser froze his Easter candy and sold it, piece by piece, at school. For his middle school’s annual band fundraiser, he sold more chocolate bars than anyone. Ever.
He always worked to be the top salesperson, said his dad, Chris Weiser.
Weiser wanted to own restaurants, perhaps inspired by his grandpa, Chuck Croasmun, who works in food services. No one’s quite sure why the teen was determined those restaurants would be dragon-themed.
He loved food, particularly his grandma’s meatloaf, cheeseburgers without the bun, Chinese food and soda. And, as one of six children, he savored the weekends he spent with his maternal grandparents (who always had soda).
Last year, Weiser shadowed his Grandpa Chuck for a few Saturdays, learning the ins and outs of the work.
One of Weiser’s former teachers sent a letter to his family recently with stories about the student who always waited after class to share a joke. She included a scrap of paper he’d added to a poster that asked: “What do you want to do when you’re older?”
In red marker and Weiser’s hectic mix of lowercase and uppercase letters, he wrote “own a restaurant.”
He was going to be surrounded by family
In August, Weiser’s big brother, Isaac, took him out for breakfast at Chick-Fil-A and asked him to be his best man. On the big day, Weiser stood by his brother in hand-me-down dress pants.
Weiser connected with each of his sisters differently, and sometimes in the rough ways of big brothers.
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Emma, 14, remembers how he loved to catch and release wild things, like butterflies and lizards. In middle school, they’d walk home together and he’d tell her, moment by moment, about his day. Each night, she could hear the show tunes that sent him to sleep.
Lucy, 12, could match her brother joke for joke. They’d trade verbal burns at the dinner table. He’d share his favorite videos and TikToks while promising “that’s not the best part” and “wait for it.”
Nessa, 11, remembers the family trip to Crystal River last year and how he tried to catch fish by hand.
And Olivia, 9, knows her big brother loved her.
He was going to help
Weiser was a literal kid, said his mom, Lindsay Weiser, and when he asked the time, he wanted it to the minute. He loved hats and often wore a uniform of white T-shirt and red gym shorts. He always wore his shirts tucked in with a belt. And he always helped out.
At home, it started early with a love of vacuuming. Weiser left tidy lines on the carpet with his favorite chore.
During the pandemic, his huge extended family gathered in Clearwater and, to stay busy, took on projects at his grandparents’.
“We fixed fences and the pool shower and cleaned up the garden…,” Weiser’s uncle, Kendrick Croasmun, wrote in a remembrance. “Ethan was always quick to join in, roll up his sleeves and help.”
Recently, Philip Chevere, Weiser’s uncle and youth group pastor at Real Church, injured his back. Weiser started coming by to pick up leaves and branches and mow.
And in middle school, Weiser often stayed after the band concerts to stack chairs and put away music stands. He never had to be asked.
He was going to keep believing
Weiser “pretty much came out with his hands folded in a prayer position,” said his mom.
She’s not kidding. There’s a photo in a box somewhere.
As a young man, at a time when his peers camouflaged themselves to fit in, Weiser stuck to his uniform and talked about God, Jesus and his faith.
When kids would push back, he discovered a place to be himself in Tony Fuoco’s classroom, clarinet in hand.
You’re doing the right thing, Fuoco would remind the Oak Grove middle schooler during the three years he had him in the band. You’re on the right track.
Whatever Weiser faced, Fuoco said, “he dealt with it through his music.”
He was going to become himself
At the beginning of his sophomore year, Weiser earned a spot with the Largo High School Madrigals. He sang in his room, in the shower, in the car. He belted out sea shanties, songs from “Shrek the Musical,” “Hamilton” and Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”
This year, Weiser planned on auditioning to sing in Epcot’s candle light services. He’d finally started doing his homework. He was going to shadow his Grandpa Chuck again.
He was 15 and still in the messy and marvelous midst of becoming himself.
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