Wandalee ’54 and JR Fullerton have committed their lives to serving others. As a social worker and firefighter, they assisted Ventura County residents throughout their long careers — and the scholarship fund they’ve created for Westmont students will endure for generations, helping many.
A sociology major at Westmont, Wandalee became a social worker after she graduated. Through the Ventura County Welfare Department, she worked with seniors and family services and licensed day care businesses and foster homes.
JR grew up in Ventura and got his first job in Shell Oil’s drilling department. After three years in the Army during the Korean War, he turned to firefighting.
Thanks to his experience with the oil industry, he developed an expertise in oil fires. As a Ventura County firefighter, he helped out with the 1964 Coyote Fire, which destroyed Westmont’s Catherwood Hall and burned around the edge of campus. He vividly recalls the blaze.
Wandalee and JR met at Ventura First Baptist Church, and Westmont instructor Howard Cleveland married them in his home. When the couple retired in 1987, they moved to Paso Robles, Calif., and bought a 23-acre hobby farm with a walnut orchard.
Wandalee’s mother taught her to be frugal and to trust God to provide. “You have to be fiscally responsible,” she says. “I learned a lot from elderly clients who out-lived their resources. It’s important to plan for retirement. We saved and invested so we could retire.”
The Fullertons have created the John R. and Wandalee A. Fullerton Scholarship Endowment to help Westmont students, and they add to it each month.“The best investment is in human beings who in turn can invest in others,” Wandalee says. “We like the idea that our scholarship recipients could one day invest in scholarships. We have what we need. We prefer to invest in others.”
The couple will fund the endowment fully through their estate, and Westmont’s Office of Gift Planning helped them make the arrangements. “It was just the encouragement we needed to develop our estate plan the way we wanted it,” Wandalee says.