East Palo Alto Today Home

 

 

Treasured Memories

Create a Memorable Legacy

List Your Services

Become a Patron

A Bouquet of Flowers

Benny Joseph Wesson
January 23, 1939 - December 30, 2016

Mr. Benny Wesson 77 died Friday December 30,2016 at the Veterans Residential Campus Facility in Palo Alto, California following an extended illness.

Mr. Wesson married Ms. Alfreda Dozanne Simpson-Wesson at age 70 ending his many decades of being a confirmed bachelor.

Benny Joseph Wesson was born on January 23, 1939 in Clow, Arkansas to Syvutus and Laura Wesson. Smart, fun loving, and fearless, Benny was a true intellect and deep thinker even as a young child. Blessed with an almost photographic memory, Benny was a gifted student, graduating with the honor of salutatorian of his junior high school class.

Benny and his siblings grew up in the segregated south, the children of hard working and devout followers of the Church of God in Christ Faith. Benny loved Sunday School, maintaining a lifetime commitment to attending, an interest he shared with his father, the late Deacon Syvutus Wesson who had been a Sunday school superintendent. Benny also was a talented gardener and landscaper, a craft he learned working with his father.

As a pre-teen, an incident would occur that would affect Benny's life in a major way and would be the reason for the Wesson Family leaving the South.

Benny and his siblings were visiting their elderly grandmother when a group of angry white men burst into the house and grabbed young Benny, accusing him of bumping into a young white child and knocking her off of her tricycle. The group of men grabbed the tall skinny young Benny dragging him outside when suddenly the child announced to her father, oh no daddy, the N--ger that bumped into me wasn't' that black. The men dropped young Benny in the yard, leaving a traumatized and bruised child without a second thought. Immediately upon learning of this incident Benny's parents decided to leave the south.

The Wesson family loaded up their children and came to California with a farming contractor who would bring African American families from the south to California to work the fields.

The family first arrived in Five Points California and then a short time later moved on to settle in Fresno California where Benny attended Edison High School.

Benny had a fascination with planes and space travel as a youth, this interest and his belief that it was time to set out on his own to ease the financial burden on his parents would be the motivation for Benny joining the air force. Shortly after graduating from Edison High School at age 17 Benny entered the air force where he completed two tours of duty. Tall Black and Fine as he often referred to himself, Benny once again experienced the challenges of racism while in the service.

Little did Benny realize that the decision to serve his country as a 17 year old would impact his life for years to follow. It is when Benny was stationed in Libya, North Africa that Benny suffered a sun stroke that required a lengthy hospital stay. Some of the details of this incident are unclear, but Benny recalls that he and a crew of soldiers mostly black were digging a trench when he blacked out. Benny ended his second tour with the Air Force returning to civilian life coming to live in Oakland, California. Benny attended and graduated from Laney Jr. College while working nights. Benny would often be seen on campus talking to groups of students, always politically aware, a savvy critical thinker Benny would challenge and befriend college professors and fellow students alike with his deep intellect.

It is during this time, the year was 1968 shortly after his younger sister's Hazel's wedding that Benny experienced his first psychotic episode. This first episode would be one of many spanning some 40 years with Benny coping with the challenges of being a disabled veteran suffering from mental health issues. Benny fought the hard fight remaining at his job, and committed to his studies, but the voices in his head pushed him toward a downward spiral. Benny experienced homelessness, and arrest by police, fear of not being able to clearly communicate to his family what was happening to him. Benny was arrested several times before law enforcement realized that he was a disabled veteran. Many times, the first reaction of law enforcement was to aggressively grab Benny in a choke hold with several officers involved to take down this very large loud black man. Anyone who knew Benny was aware of his non violent nature. Benny's sister Hazel became involved with her brother's challenges while he lived in the Bay Area. Benny at times returned to Fresno to be close to his beloved mother Laura Wesson and older sister Helen Jones. Benny continued to have improvements along with many setbacks, but his family always believed in him. Benny's sister Hazel was well known to the East Palo Alto Police and the Veterans Administration as a constant protector and advocate for her brother. In later years as Hazel's health began to decline, the support of Benny continued with his sister Nealie Wheaton until her passing In October 2015.

Benny loved his family and was always one of the first to arrive for a graduation or a wedding.

Uncle Benny was always witty, wise, and opinionated. Never one to forget a birthday or special occasion he will be missed by so many. Generous of his money and his time, he was a big man with a big heart.

Benny was preceded in death by his beloved parents Syvutus and Laura Wesson older sisters Helen Jones and Ella Walker and younger sister Nealie Wheaton. He leaves to cherish his precious memory, his wife Alfreda Dozanne Wesson of Palo Alto, California, his older brother Clarence Wesson of Portland Oregon, younger brother Randolph Wesson of Concord California, younger sisters' Evangelist Hazel J. Webb of Brentwood California and sister Laurette Wesson of Stockton California. Along with a host of nieces, nephews and close family friends.

Viewing Service Final Disposition
Date:
Time:
Place:
Address:
City, State:
Date:
Time:
Place:
Address:
City, State:
Date:
Time:
Place:
Address:
City, State:

Remembrances

Please leave some remembrance about this person.

Add your own remembrance
Display Name: *
E-mail address: *
Will not be published on the site.
Remembrance: *

Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box
*
Verification Code:   

Advertising