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Soldier who spoke to area students has died

Lt. Col. Mark Weber explains his health condition and talks April 19 to MACCRAY High School students about facing life’s Challenges. Tribune photo by Linda Vanderwerf

ROSEMOUNT — Lt. Col. Mark Weber, the Rosemount soldier who became an inspiration to many as he battled terminal cancer for nearly three years, died shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon, according to a post on his Caringbridge site.

According to the post, he died at home surrounded by family and friends, hours after hospice doctors informed him the end was near.

After his diagnosis, Weber wrote a book “Tell My Sons” and spoke to high school students, including a live videoconference in April with students from the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart and MACCRAY school districts.

Weber told the students that he named his cancer Buford, that doctors believe the cancer would end his life.  While his Buford is one of the biggest around, Weber said to the students, “Buford is really just a name for hardship; you all have Bufords in your life.”

 For teenagers, Buford often can be a social situation, like bullying or relationship troubles.

 It can be family issues or a problem in school.

 “If you haven’t been told this, or you haven’t realized this, life isn’t going to go the way you want it to,” Weber said. What’s important, he told them, is how they respond when things don’t go the way they planned.

Weber has gained international attention since his 2010 diagnosis of neuroendocrine cancer, which came shortly after he was selected to serve on the staff of Gen. David Petraeus in Afghanistan. The diagnosis kept him from traveling to Afghanistan, but it did little to slow him down.

Last year, as he ended his service in the Army, Weber received the Legion of Merit and Outstanding Volunteer Service Awards. His wife, Kristin, received the Minnesota Superior Civilian Award for her volunteer work with the military. They received the honors from Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a ceremony attended by former Joint Chiefs chairman John Vessey and Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

“Tell My Sons” started as a message to sons Matthew, Joshua and Noah. Weber self-published the book and it has since been picked up by Random House and published internationally.

Details on a funeral and visitation for Weber are pending.

Gretchen Schlosser and Linda Vanderwerf of the West Central Tribune contributed to this article.

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