WEDEMEYER Jr., JOHN M. August 1945 to February 2010 John M. Wedemeyer, Jr., died at home in San Diego on February 17, 2010, with his family at his side, following a three-year battle with cancer. He was a visionary leader in the design and implementation of innovative human service programs in San Diego, achieving significant policy advocacy accomplishments at the local, State, and federal levels. He grew up in Sacramento where he graduated from Encina High School. His father, Jack Wedemeyer, was the Director of the California State Department of Social Welfare. John received his Bachelor's degree at UC Davis and his Master of Social Work degree at San Diego State University. He began his career as a Child Protective Services Worker with San Diego County, where he was the organizer of the San Diego County Foster Parents organization. In the 1970s he was the founding director of San Diego Youth Services, and a co-founder of Community Congress of San Diego. He was the main visionary and leader in local advocacy work with the City of San Diego, the County of San Diego, and United Way, which resulted in a nationally recognized human services contracting system that continues to this day. San Diego Youth Services' first project was a runaway center - one of the first and most successful in the nation. While at SDYS he served as a field instructor for the SDSU School of Social Work, and in 1974, he received SDSU's Distinguished Alumni Award. Mr. Wedemeyer testified regarding the need for services for runaways at a U.S. Senate Subcommittee in 1972; his expertise and that of his advocacy colleagues were extensively used in the drafting of the 1974 Runaway Youth Act. Today, federal funding under this law is still being allocated to serve youth, particularly homeless youth. In 1976, he became the founding Chair of the National Network for Runaway and Youth Services. After directing a youth counseling program in Santa Cruz, he returned to San Diego, and in 1985 became the Director of the June Burnett Institute for Children, Youth, and Families in the SDSU Research Foundation. While there, he managed and led over 15 projects funded by federal, State, County, and foundation sources. Many of the projects involved collaborations with local schools, particularly by increasing the involvement of parents from low-income and predominantly immigrant neighborhoods. He secured funding for a number of interdisciplinary projects involving community-based organizations, schools, and County agencies. He established an SDSU Faculty Fellows program, in which faculty worked with the practice community on projects, resulting in a number of professional journal publications. He was twice recognized by SDSU as a top-performing principal investigator, and after retirement in 2009 he became an adjunct faculty member in the School of Social Work at SDSU. Over his career, he served as the chair of 15 advocacy organizations, task forces, and advisory groups at the national, state, and local levels. In 2009, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the local chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Recently, the Board Room at San Diego Youth Services was named in his honor. This week, John was recognized by the California Social Welfare Archives, and selected to join the California Social Work Hall of Distinction. He was an active member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in North Park, serving on the Vestry and on St. Luke's Refugee Network Board. He was an artist and former student of painter Roland Peterson. He was also a pianist who loved Chopin and Scott Joplin. John is survived and loved dearly by his wife of 40 years, Marianne, his daughter Anne of San Diego, his mother Helen, sister Karen, and niece Kandy of San Jose. A memorial service will be held Friday, February 26th, at 3:00 p.m. at Saint Luke's Episcopal Church, 3725 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to either San Diego Youth Services (3255 Wing Street, San Diego, CA 92110, 619-221-8600), or Saint Luke's Refugee Network (4305 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92105, 619-283-1337).
Published by San Diego Union-Tribune on Feb. 24, 2010.