San Diego’s ‘Highwayman’ – Who Freely Aided Stranded Motorists for Decades – Now Needs Help

by on November 13, 2020 · 4 comments

in San Diego

For literally decades, San Diego’s Highwayman has pulled up behind stranded motorists and offered aid, free of charge.

Tom Weller – who grew up in Ocean Beach – has spent years upon years patrolling San Diego freeways helping people out ever since his car plowed into a snowbank in Illinois in 1966, and he was helped by a good Samaritan who told him to pass it on.

Now Weller needs some teeth, as he told NBC 7 :

“I’ve been reluctant to ask for myself. I didn’t have any trouble asking in my mission for others, but for myself, it’s very difficult. But I need some teeth.”

Now 72 — Weller needs some help himself of the dental variety. He has launched a GoFundMe in an effort to be able to pay for dental implants, since he’s unable to wear his dentures anymore because his anchor tooth broke. “It’s been a difficult time ’cause I’m losing weight, losing confidence and am at my last resort, so to speak,” Weller said.

Weller, who said he has lost nearly 20 pounds on a soft-food diet prepared by his wife, explained his situation in greater detail on the GoFundMe page.

As NBC reported:

Weller spent the ensuing decades patrolling San Diego freeways in Beulah, his distinctive white ’50s Ford station wagon (and a white ambulance he purchased after Beulah was in a freeway wreck), helping out for nearly 50 years and getting recognition for his good deeds along the way from People magazine, Reader’s Digest, the Los Angeles Times and CBS News, whose iconic human-interest newsman Charles Kuralt profiled him back in ’96, which is where and when Weller got his nickname, the San Diego Highwayman.

… The San Diego Highwayman’s GoFundMe only launched on Thursday, so he’s only started on his way to the goal of $50,000 — the cost is so high because he’s hoping to replace the single upper plate he has now with a mouthful of implants.

One donor who stopped to pay it forward left a note on the page before she left:

“This is a great man who has dedicated his life to helping others, never charging, and always with kindness and a smile. I wish times were better to contribute more. For the smile, and the man behind it, who has brought light to those in need.”

That same year, Weller had a stroke and was having trouble with his left side, which put an end to driving a loop of San Diego’s roadways looking for stranded motorists.

… “Some years back, I finally found a great dentist!” Weller wrote. “Over the ensuing years since, he had done the best he could for me, and had fashioned a full ‘upper’ plate and a partial lower denture that enabled me to eat — but — just before this ‘COVID’ situation began, an ‘anchor tooth’ for the lower denture broke, causing it to become useless. The remaining teeth were insufficient to retain the denture and so I have been without since.”

Weller, in part, said the trouble with his teeth began when he was a teenager and had a “horrific experience with a dentist in Ocean Beach” and began to neglect his teeth. The El Cajon resident still remembers that day.

“I lived in Ocean Beach when I was a teenager,” Weller said. “He was doing a root canal or whatever he was doing, and the procedure went past the time, the pain injection wore off, and I’ve never had such intense pain before or since.”

… The way Weller says it, it seems like he’s needs are simple, despite the high price tag. “I’d like to smile and speak clearly and enunciate my words, and maybe even be able to whistle again,” Weller said with a laugh.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie November 14, 2020 at 10:21 am

Many thanks to this man who did good deeds!

Is he still a resident of Ocean Beach?


Frank Gormlie November 15, 2020 at 3:20 pm

No, El Cajon, I believe.


Geoff Page November 16, 2020 at 12:49 pm

I met Weller years ago when I was looking for snow chains for my minivan. He had them and we stopped at his place in El Cajon. He was incredibly gracious and gave us several snow toys to use for nothing, like a metal saucer and a sled. I got to see his ambulance close up. I will be contributing to his GoFundMe quest, this guy has helped so many people he deserves to receive some kindness in return.


triggerfinger November 16, 2020 at 11:09 pm

Thank you for sharing this. His story has always inspired me. I will pitch in.


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