Robert A. Weese Collection
Bulk dates: 1938-1966
Bulk dates: 1938-1966
Acquisition Information: Donated in 2022 by Thomas Weese, son of Robert and Bessie Weese.
Access Restriction: Materials are open for research. Digital copies may be available upon request.
Copyright: Intellectual property rights reside with the creators of materials except where it is noted that OHS holds the copyright. Please consult archives staff for more information regarding the copyright of specific materials.
Processing Information: This finding aid was created by Jazmin D. It will be updated as the collection is processed more fully.
Preferred Citation: Robert A. Weese Collection. Oceanside Historical Society Archives, Oceanside, CA.
Written by Kristi Hawthorne
Robert A. Weese was born May 18, 1899 in Havelock, Ontario Canada. Robert Weese joined the Canadian Army when he was just 15 years old and drove an ambulance in England during World War I. His older brother Thomas Weese, who was fighting in Belgium, wrote to his mother urging her to have Robert sent home because he was getting ready to go to France and his brother was concerned for Robert’s safety. Thomas G. Weese was killed in the Battle of Passchendaele in the West Flanders region of Belgium.
Robert A. Weese eventually moved to the United States and became a naturalized citizen. He joined the Navy in 1924 while living briefly in Kansas City, Missouri. He was stationed in San Diego on the USS Arizona. One day, while hitchhiking to Los Angeles along the 101 Highway, he was picked up by two women, one of which was Bessie McClellan who he married shortly afterwards.
Weese obtained an early discharge from the Navy and went to work for the Oceanside Water Department in Oceanside, California as a meter reader and while reading and repairing every water meter in Oceanside, gained a firsthand knowledge of the water system.
Every Sunday he would check the wells and the water table. In 1935 the WPA built a new pumping station in Reservoir at Buddy Todd Park where Weese would chlorinate the water. In 1938 Weese was appointed Oceanside’s Water Superintendent, a position he held until his retirement in 1968.
Weese’s knowledge of the water and sewer department was so vast that he was known as “Mr. Water.” It was his foresight to divert sewer effluent, which had discharged for decades into the ocean, out to Whelan Lake. Weese also proposed a solution for salt water intrusion, an underground barrier or dam at the mouth of the San Luis Rey River as a means of holding back the ocean during periods when the water table was pumped below sea level.
Weese wrote a detailed history of the water department which was published in the Oceanside Blade Tribune. He oversaw the building of the Fire Mountain Reservoir in 1955. He was a member of the San Diego County Water Authority, serving as the Chairman of the Engineering and Operations Committee, a member of the State Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Feather River Project Association, the American Water Works Association and other water related organizations. Weese also served as a director of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce.
Oceanside’s water treatment plant, built in 1983, was named the Robert A. Weese Filtration Plant.
Please visit our page on the History of Oceanside
Materials relating to local history, including images and articles from the Oceanside Blade Tribune, are available at the San Diego History Center.
Researchers can find additional materials on local history in the Special Collections of the Oceanside Public Library.
Materials relating to California as a part of the Ninth Civilian Defense Region during World War Ⅱ can be found by consulting the Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Relevant materials are contained within Record Group 171, section 171.5 Records of OCD Region (AZ, CA, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, WA).
Researchers will also find valuable information about Oceanside in Oceanside: Where Life is Worth Living by Kristi Hawthorne, and Oceanside: Crest of the Wave by Langdon Sully.
Current meeting minutes and documents for the Oceanside Water Utilities Commission are available from the City Council, with digital records accessible dating back to 2011. The Oceanside Water Utilities Department also offers online access to information about current programs and policies. Researchers interested in this collection may also be interested in the Robert A. Weese Filtration Plant. Other relevant public records may be requested from the Oceanside City Clerk via a Public Records Request.
Please contact us to consult the OHS archives staff for further information and research assistance.