He helped thousands of people during more than 50 years of service. Now, more than a thousand people returned the favor.
“I have a whole lot to be thankful for,” said Thomas Weller as he leaned against his 1956 Mercury Amblewagon.
The bumper reads, “My church was the highway for 50 years: 1966 – 2016.”
“I miss it desperately,” sighed the 72-year-old. “I think my record was 12 individuals with situations in a day and I was ecstatic after that.”
Weller was dubbed the “San Diego Highwayman” by the late great journalist Charles Kuralt. Weller said he helped thousands of people along San Diego roadways who ran out of gas, got a flat tire, or broke down. He said he never asked for anything in return.
Weller said it was his way of repaying the good Samaritan who saved his life in 1964. The mysterious man rescued Weller from a snow embankment after Weller lost control.
Fast forward more than almost 60 years.
“It’s very difficult to ask for help for myself,” Weller told NBC 7 on November 13.
The El Cajon man set up a GoFundMe page because he can’t afford $50,000 for dental implants. He no longer can use dentures because he lost his last anchor tooth.
In less than 10 days, the San Diego Highwayman’s good deeds were repaid.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Weller had more than enough to cover his surgery.
“I’m extremely thankful for everyone who has assisted me with my situation,” he said. “People I never even known, people who saw the story, and who decided to assist me...I’m very thankful and grateful.”
He said he is grateful for his rescue dog Sadie-Mae who filled the void left by his beloved rescue Shotgun Sheila. He said he is grateful for his wife Patti who will care for him until his first celebration meal: Ribs. He’s also grateful for the more-than-a-thousand people who donated to his fund.
“We need this. We need this desperately: Good news.”
Weller said he’ll wait until after Thanksgiving to schedule his surgery.