Louis Weinstein, of Burlington, who aided in shaping public thought and action in the State of Iowa, and left an indelible impress for good, was one of the ablest journalists of the Middle West. He was a man of wide influence, yet he never used this to further his own ends. Through the columns of the Hawk-Eye, with which he was so long connected, he preached the gospel of hope and perseverance, of the power of labor and the possibility of accomplishment, and his own life was an exemplification of all these. Unconsciously to himself, he proved in his own life the value of the principles which he published, the force of the facts which he presented, and many there were who listened to his counsel and heeded his admonitions to their own betterment. His superior intellectual force, his genial manner, and clear presentation of his thoughts, made him a most delightful companion, and as the champion of many measures of direct and permanent benefit to the State, he proved so valuable a citizen that his death was deeply deplored throughout the commonwealth.
Louis Weinstein was born in Schwerin, Mecklenburg, Germany, Jan. 12, 1846, and in the schools of the Fatherland he acquired a good practical education that served as an excellent foundation for the superstructure of learning to which he constantly added as the years went by, and his reading embraced all the various lines of thought commanding public attention, as well as the classic literary productions of all the ages. He came to America at the age of sixteen years, and after being employed in a dry-goods store in New York for a time, he went to the South, where he maintained business connections until about 1870. Proceeding northward, he went to Omaha, Nebr., where he engaged in the dry-goods business on his own account; but, like thousands of others, met reverses during the wide-spread financial panic of 1873.
Not long afterward he came to Burlington, making this city his permanent home. He arrived here in 1876, and was employed in Liebstandter's dry-goods store; but having a talent for newspaper work, he soon became editor of the Iowa Tribune, and in 1879 associated himself with Jacob Wohlwend in the publication of the German paper. Becoming traveling deputy in connection with the office of internal revenue collector, under John Burdette, then of the Hawk-Eye, his ability was recognized, and the position of managing editor of the paper was offered him and accepted. He acted in that capacity, to the material benefit of the paper, until he was stricken with locomotor ataxia, when he was forced to relinquish the business affairs of the office, but he never ceased his literary work and editorial writings until within a few days of his death. No greater valor or more stalwart heroism has been displayed on the field of battle or in the face of danger than was shown by Mr. Weinstein, when, under almost constant suffering, he continued his writing, preparing editorial after editorial for the paper, and discussing the great political and sociological problems claiming public attention. A noticeable feature of his writings was the note of hope and encouragement that pervaded it; there was never a pessimistic utterance or the least suggestion of doubt as to the ultimate triumph of all that works for permanent good. One of his associates on the Hawk-Eye, writing of him at the time of his death, said: "Mr. Weinstein was pre-eminently a journalist. He may have inherited some of his talent and passion for the profession, his father being one of the guild. He possessed the rare gift of being able to differ from others, to even administer very hard blows, and yet to keep his temper, and to arouse no lasting ill-feeling or animosity in those who went down before him. He was broad, just, liberal, fair, and honorable. He could advocate a reform and carry a movement to success without appealing to the prejudices of his supporters or ruthlessly trampling upon those who differed from him. He could meet you in fair fight, and victor or defeated, would be happy to welcome you as a friend, to share his mental repasts, or, if need be, his last dollar with you. It is not belittling his magnificent gifts, his fine education, to say the most striking element of his newspaper life was industry, and the pages that he turned out in connection with journalism would form, not a respectable number of volumes, but a respectable library. He was a born politician. Had he devoted the same energy to furthering his own interests that he was ever ready to devote to the cause of his friends, greater honors and emoluments would have fallen to him.
Mr. Weinstein, however, filled some public positions, and the duties of these he discharged with the utmost fidelity and ability. It was inevitable that some public service should be asked, some honor bestowed, upon a man so eminently qualified. He was for two terms collector of internal revenue for the southern district of Iowa, receiving appointment under President Harrison's administration. He was for fourteen years a trustee of the Iowa School for the Deaf, at Council Bluffs, discharging his duties with satisfaction to the State officers and Legislature. He was largely instrumental in raising the standard of the school and promoting its efficiency; and when failing health prevented him from continuing his connection with the school, he maintained the deepest interest in its work and progress, using his influence for its upbuilding. For many years he was also oil inspector, continuing in that office up to the time of his death. He served as chairman of campaign committees, and his opinions carried weight in the councils of the Republican party. He was a close and discriminating student, and his analytical mind enabled him to understand with rare keenness of mental vision the value and possibilities of any political measure. His influence, perhaps, was exerted in a political way most widely through the columns of his paper, for his discussion of problems created widespread interest and discussion, and the seeds of truth thus sown often bore rich fruit.
Although leading a most busy life, Mr. Weinstein always found the opportunity to enrich his own mind by broad and varied reading, and was not only familiar with the classical in literature, but in other forms of art as well. His home became the center of a cultured society circle, men of intellect gathering there to discuss with him the leading questions of the day or the problems that literature has preserved to us. It would be difficult to name one man in Burlington who had more sincere friends, for those who knew him well regarded him with genuine affection. He was a gentleman and a scholar, devoted to the highest ideals, and of this class were his friends. He was, moreover, quick to recognize and appreciate all that is commendable in others; and although the demands upon his attention were many, he always found time for a hearty hand-shake and word of greeting for those who sought an audience with him.
To a man of strong mind, high purposes, lofty ideals, and with a clear understanding of the purposes of life, it was most natural that his deepest interest centered in his home. He was married in 1880 to Miss Loui Lalk, and they had two children, Edward and Dora, who, with the wife, survive him. His first thought was for his family, and to them the richest elements of his character and the greatest depths of his tenderness were most often shown. With heroic effort he labored for the family and the age in which he lived, and his life, with its note of cheer and sympathy, as well as his writings, was a source of inspiration to those with whom he came in contact. Well might it be said of him, as of the Roman statesman of old:—
"His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, 'This was a man.' "