By Logan Hall
Ninety-two-year-old Jim Weblemoe is no stranger to helping others. He raised a family, worked for the military as a civilian and an enlisted sailor in the Navy, and has done extensive volunteer work for Help of Ojai at their West Campus.
Born in Northwood, Iowa, on April 1, 1918, Weblemoe graduated from school and became a professor of physics in Fremont, Neb. Soon after that, he joined the Navy where he served for a short while in 1945 toward the end of World War II.
In 1953, his father suffered a heart attack, and Weblemoe had to take over the family business, R.M. Weblemoe Sand and Gravel. “I had to go back to run my dad’s sand and gravel business until he got back on his feet.” said Weblemoe. “We shipped a lot of gravel to the railroads from 1953 to 1957.”
Among the many things that he has been involved with in his life, Weblemoe has been the president of three different Optimist clubs in Fremont, Neb., in Corona after he moved to California in 1957, and finally in Ojai, where he is still an Optimist Club member today. “The Optimist Club is dedicated to helping youth,” he said. “We have a number of programs that are designed to help the schools.”
Since moving to Ojai in 1971 with his family, he has been involved with the community in many ways. He has worked as a volunteer for Help of Ojai for many years, where he helped them set up a carpentry and welding shop that has given Help of Ojai the opportunity to work on the extensive repairs that have been needed at the West Campus facility. “We’ve had to do a lot of converting and repair out there,” said Weblemoe. “The buildings need a lot of repair and adaptation for what they are used for.”
Weblemoe has been honored several times in his life for the various ways he contributes to society. “A couple of years ago, I received a national honor for my work with Help of Ojai,” he said about being awarded the annual Older Volunteers Enrich America Award. “I went to Washington, D.C., and the award was presented in the new Reagan building.”
Most recently, Weblemoe has been honored by his community as one of this year’s Living Treasures. This recognition is awarded every year by the Rotary Clubs of Ojai to individuals who serve their community above and beyond the call of duty. Weblemoe is humble about the award and says it’s not just him who is deserving. “I hope that the honor really goes to Help of Ojai and the things they are trying to do,” he said. “Perhaps it will help them get the job done.”