WHO IS WILLIE WEE ANDERSON?
Father. Husband. Brother. Pastor. Mentor. Advocate. Leader. Dreamer.
Willie Wee Anderson was born in 1939 in the small community of Honey Island, Texas. He was one of seven children and the eldest boy. While receiving his formal education in Honey Island, he excelled in baseball as a teenager and travelled in the South playing in adult leagues. Desiring to spread his wings and expand his opportunities, Willie moved to Benton Harbor, Michigan to complete his education, as his high school in Honey Island only provided classes through the 10th grade. In 1960, at the age of 20, he enlisted in the United States Air Force and ultimately served his country for over 20 years. While stationed at March Air Force Base, Willie would meet his lifelong companion, Aubrey G. Anderson, and they married in 1966. They would go on to have three children while the military took them to Austin, Texas, the Panama Canal Zone and Sacramento, California. Willie retired from the Air Force in 1982 and settled in Sacramento with his family.
Willie was a born leader and advocated for equality for black folks throughout the civil rights movement. He organized events, marches and gave speeches to advance civil rights in the United States, all while serving his country in the military (and while coaching women’s softball teams). He had an untiring commitment to the fight against racism and the advancement of the black community. He encouraged and instilled education and entrepreneurship into his children, as he believed these were the pillars for building generational wealth. He once told his eldest son, “I went in the Air Force so that you didn’t have to.” He loved his country but wanted to see others have the opportunities and options he was not afforded.
In 1982, Willie accepted Christ and was later called to the ministry. He served as a Baptist preacher for almost 20 years and became the pastor of New Hearts Baptist Church in 1998. In addition to his work as a minister, Willie obtained a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies and Social Sciences from California State University at Sacramento (CSUS). All three of Willie’s children also went on to earn degrees from CSUS.
Willie was known as a loving and devoted husband, an inspirational and supportive father, a caring and thoughtful friend, a devout man of God, and an avid sports fan! Before his passing in 2002, he served as a member of the Sacramento chapter of the Tuskegee Airman; a member of AFRICA (Africans For Re-education, Innovation, Consciousness and Achievement); President of the Northern District Baptist Association Ministers Department; and the primary organizer of an annual Black History Month program where scholarships were awarded to minority students. One of his proudest achievements was creating a monthly family newsletter, entitled “Family Connections”. The newsletter provided valuable and historical information, and helped his family members, no matter where they resided, stay connected. Willie was a true family man and lover of people. His legacy lives on through the Willie Wee Anderson Foundation.