By David Warren, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross
Despite the declaration by the Chicago Daily Tribune, Harry Truman really did defeat Thomas Dewey for a full term in the White House. And it was the machinations of that 1948 presidential campaign that piqued the interest of John Weekley.
Over the course of more than 40 years, John was involved in some 300 campaigns, either pushing the platform of political candidates or promoting an array of initiatives.
For the past five years, he’s been campaigning on behalf of the American Red Cross; first, as vice chairman of the board for biomedical operations in the southwestern U.S. Now, he begins his tenure as a member of the board overseeing operations of our DFW chapter.
“I always had a place in my soul for the Red Cross because they do so many things,” said Weekley, a Dallas native.
The 72-year-old Weekley brings a background in disaster response along with an understanding of public relations and fundraising.
His introduction to disaster response was during the Vietnam war when he conducted investigations for the Air Force, seeking answers for matters like unexplained deaths or industrial accidents.
As part of his training, he learned about large-scale responses to disasters such as radiological or biological fallout, and enemy bombings.
“It was absolutely necessary if you’re going to save lives, to understand disaster response,” he said.
That understanding has grown exponentially since Weekley’s time in the Air Force, as critical areas like communications and emergency equipment have improved.
“You can triage a patient with more accuracy, and you can save more lives that way,” he said.
Through the years, the married father of three grown daughters operated a political consulting firm for 25 years and has worked on campaigns ranging from gathering support to remodel the Dallas Zoo to launching Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). He can also be heard on Dallas airwaves offering political commentary and analysis for the media.
But long before he became kingmaker, Weekley played the part of lifesaver – by way of keeping people above water.
As a young man, he took a water safety instructor class offered by the Red Cross, and taught people how to swim.
In fact, his interest in the Red Cross began at an earlier age. In the ninth grade, he did a book report on the pioneering nurse who founded the Red Cross, Clara Barton.
“I found her absolutely fascinating,” he said, “and that always sort of stuck with me.”
We welcome John Weekley to the American Red Cross DFW Board of Directors, and we are proud to say he’s a #RedCrosser at heart. For more information on the Red Cross in DFW, visit http://www.redcross.org/local/northtexas.