Dr. Rev. Donald R. Wesson
The person I chose for my interview is Rev. Donald Wesson, my father. Rev. Wesson was born in Bakersfield, California on January 11, 1960, to Ernest and Rosie Wesson. He has a total of eight siblings, seven brothers and one sister. His family moved to San Fernando Valley when he was nine years old. His father was in the household and worked, but he was not a father to Donald and his siblings. Ernest worked as a supervisor at the parks and recreations division in Los Angeles, California. His mother worked sometimes, but was basically a stay at home mom. He was raised on welfare. He can remember going to bed hungry because there was not enough food. Donald recalls eating “wish sandwiches,” having two pieces of bread and wishing for some meat. Even though his father worked he would spend the money outside of the home. Donald remembers having the support of his mother and father until the age of 13. After 13 he had less support from his parents.
Ernest did not have a positive influence on Donald’s life. Any advice his father gave him was negative. He remembers being forced to do things and being beaten. If Donald and his siblings did not play any type of sports they had to dig up the entire backyard. His father insisted his children played some kind of sport. One day Donald received a phone call from a job that he applied for. He was hired on as a lifeguard and was asked to come to work the same day. He went to work and when he returned home his father beat him because he left the house. Donald and his siblings were on punishment and were instructed not to leave the house. He did not expect his father to react that way. He thought he would be proud he was hired. Instead his father beat him rather than supporting him.
Donald’s father left his mother in 1979. Most of the children were grown and out of the house. All the children resented their father. They did not have that father son or father daughter relationship that every young child desires to have with their father. Their mother was basically a single mom. The children loved and respected their mother.
Rev. Wesson loved the game of baseball and played throughout high school. His mother and father rarely attend any of his games. He can only recall his father showing up to 2 out of 57 of his games. After high school he went on to play professional baseball. He played for the Minnesota Twins, AA ball for 2 years, in Mexico in the Mexicali league, AAA ball, and 2 years on the Philadelphia Phillies, AAA. His career was over when he injured his rotary cuff in his right arm. This was a turning point for him.
Donald had no idea what he was going to do next. He called home and asked his mom if he could come back home and she told him no. His mother’s devastating response caused him to consider suicide. Life after baseball was rough. A friend continued to invite him to church and he finally went. On February 19,1982, Donald Wesson became a child of God and started a new venture in his life. Moving back to Bakersfield in the later part of 1983 he started working at the Convention Center and the Bakersfield City School District. In January 1985, he met my mother, Barbara Whitmire. She had two sons from her previous marriage. Donald took her sons under his wing and coached them in basketball. On June 10, 1985, Donald and Barbara were married. On December 30,1986 I was born.
Once Donald was married his relationship with his parents was very shaky. His mother was more in his life than his father because his father lives inTexas. When my father decided he was going to follow the way of God and not be involved in the confusion with his siblings, his family turned against him. They used him and his wife for what they could and then turned their backs on him.
Donald turned into respectable, and honorable man of God. Even, after all he went through and faced in life he did not allow any of that to stop him. Donald became the pastor at Greater St. Paul Baptist Church in Delano, California, on May 9, 1992. While living in Delano, Rev. Wesson served on the planning commission for the city, started a men’s home for men who were on drugs, alcohol, or ready to change their lives. As a result of the men’s home a total of 67 men joined the program, 60 completed the program. Thirty are now supervisors on their jobs, have their families back, and own their own homes. Currently 3 of the men own their own businesses. Rev. Wesson coached the junior high football team and they won two championships. Also, he coached the high school football team at Delano High School. Rev. Wesson wears many hats. He is a man of God, father, pastor, counselor, leader, coach, and friend.
St. Paul moved to Bakersfield in 2004. He has been the pastor there for almost 20 years. While in Bakersfield Pastor Wesson has been very involved within the community. Working as the president of the Concern Leaders of the Community, a Liaison between the community, law enforcement, District Attorney’s office (DA’s office), and the educational system. Also, he serves on the board of Safe Streets, an organization whose goal is to stop gang violence. Rev. Wesson received a Hidden Hero Award and the Person of the Year Award in September 2011, for his involvement in the community. On September 3, 2011, the Concerned Leaders hosted an event, Family Day in the Park. My dad coordinated the event and approximately 2,100 people showed up. Thirty-nine agencies participated, five businesses, nine principals, and three high school board members participated in the event.
Yes, my dad has done all these things for the community and members at the church and more. Most of all he has been a great father to me and my brothers. I remember when I was little being with my dad all day long. If he had meetings to attend I was right there with him. He cared for me like a father should care for his daughter. He taught me what a man should be and what to look for in a man. He raised me and my brothers to always put God first and to depend on no one. He has been the man of our house for 26 years and counting. My parents support one another in all that they do and raised us together. Yes, my father is a busy man but he does make time for his family. He did not allow his up bringing or past to dictate his future. He did not take after his father and walk out on his family. Any events I have my mom and dad are right there together cheering me on.
Rev. Wesson has received a B.A. in Biblical Studies, M.A. in Divinity, M.A. in Christian Family Counseling, and a Ph.D. in Christian Family Counseling. In February 2011 Pastor Wesson started the Theological Seminary Institute in Bakersfield, California, where he trains individuals to be strong christian leaders. He has accomplished so much in his life and he continues to work hard to fulfill the call God has placed on his life. Many people do not understand the role and responsibilities of a pastor or all that he does. Rev. Wesson is one pastor that has an open heart and does all he can for people. He is not like any other pastor I know. He takes and response to telephone calls all day and all night. When I look at him I wonder why and how can he do these things and not always be appreciated for what he does. I know it has to be God. He does not fit any of the stereotypes placed on Black males. Everything I stated shows how he is different. He turned his life around and did not stay at the bottom. He did not stay on welfare he rose above and became an extremely productive citizen. My immediate family has never been on welfare and I thank God for that and all his many blessings. My parents have both worked to support our family. My dad loves and respects my mother.