Ben Weider passes away at age 85

Commentary by Peter McGough

Saturday, October 18 2008


BEN WEIDER: February 1, 1923 – October 17, 2008

Ben Weider, who in tandem with his brother Joe, took bodybuilding from an underground pastime to a worldwide movement practiced by millions, died suddenly on Friday October 17 in his native Montreal, Canada. He was 85 years old.

Joe founded his publishing company in 1939 and, after coming home from military service in World War II, Ben began organizing the contest side of the movement they both passionately believed in. Today the International Federation of Body Builders (IFBB) which Ben launched in 1946 with just one affiliate, Canada, has over 170 member nations and is one of the biggest sporting federations in the world.

Throughout their unparalleled odyssey and its numerous setback and challenges Ben and Joe never lost sight of, or faith, in continually elevating the sport of bodybuilding and bringing it to the widest audience possible. And even though he was 85, Ben’s energy and passion for the sport was, as always, much in evidence at the 2008 Olympia three weeks ago.

This is an immensely sad day for our sport and is indeed the end of an era. Ben’s steadying hand and wise counsel will be sorely missed as bodybuilding wends its way though the next few years. After over 60 years the Ben and Joe partnership on this earth is no more, and in truth only mortality could ever have ended it.

Personally I have much to be grateful to Ben for and it is with a heavy heart that I write this news update. On behalf of the bodybuilding community – past and present – I offer the most heartfelt unified condolences to Ben’s wonderful family and thank him for a life well lived, and a job well done. Rest in Peace, Ben. You deserve it.

Ben Weider is survived by his wife, Huguette, nee Derouin, sons Louis, Eric, and Mark, and grandchildren Joseph and Vanessa. Also surviving are his brother Joe and sister Freda Yankofsky. Family and friends will gather for a memorial service at 1:00pm on Monday, October 20th, at Paperman’s Funeral Home in Montreal. The family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Ben Weider Jewish Community Center.

Click here for information regarding the service for Ben Weider.

A full obituary and celebration of the life of Ben Weider will appear in the January issue of FLEX.