A public radio host who died in a rollover crash near his Oakland home early Saturday morning had deep Oakland roots and loved to barbecue for his friends, family and neighbors, his nephew said Monday.
Wesley Burton’s nephew, 19-year-old Tlaca Hernandez, said:
“He was a guy that you could make friends with within an hour.”
Hernandez has raised nearly $20,000 through a GoFundMe campaign to help support Burton’s wife and three young children — a crucial source of support as Burton did not have life insurance. Burton was killed in a crash at about 2:20 a.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Way near 59th Street, according to police. He was trapped inside the vehicle and despite life-saving measures, was pronounced dead there.
He worked as a board operator and co-host at Berkeley-based public radio station KPFA. His two shows, Sideshow Radio and After Hours, played hip-hop, R&B, soul and jazz music late at night. Hernandez, who first met Burton when he was only 6 years old, said his uncle had always loved music and the two played drums together when Hernandez was young.
Burton married Hernandez’s aunt, Lucrecia, and since then was like a father to him, he said. Burton’s young children, Santiago, Enrique, and Samaya, were like siblings to him:
“Whenever somebody thought of a good father, it was him.”
That Burton was such a good and devoted father was a special accomplishment because Burton himself grew up without a father, Hernandez said:
“Him growing up without a father, him breaking that cycle of a father leaving their children and their wives, that’s awesome. … I’ll always remember him playing sports outside with his kids all the time,”
Burton was a big Oakland sports fan, and particularly a fan of the Oakland A’s and Golden State Warriors. He had deep roots in the Oakland community but had only recently moved to the North Oakland neighborhood where he was killed. But even in that short time, he had made plenty of friends in the neighborhood.
He loved to cook barbecue and any time there was a get-together Burton would be at the grill cooking chicken, ribs, pork chops and sausages for anyone with an appetite. Hernandez said:
“He could cook some meat.”
But now his children, all 8 years old or younger, are coping with the loss of their devoted father through a tragic accident. Hernandez said he watched their mother give them the sad news, and the pained looks on their faces hurt him deeply. Hernandez himself has been coping as best he can, but before he allows himself to grieve he wants to make sure the family is taken care of:
“Me and my dad have always been the ones when things go like this, we always have to take care of business first. … When everything else passes, that’s when the emotions start hitting. I’m just trying to stay strong.”
He said his aunt, who was like a second mother to him, used to take care of him in kindergarten. After the accident, he told her:
“You took care of me, now it’s time for me to take care of you.”
So far, he has made good on his promise, raising nearly $20,000 of his $22,000 goal in only a day. His fundraising page is online at http://www.gofundme.com/wesleyburton:
“Please keep donating, anything helps.”
Meanwhile, he said he isn’t focused on the police search for a hit-and-run driver in the crash as finding the driver won’t bring his uncle back:
“That’s the least of my worries right now. … I could waste my energy on being mad or I could be productive.”
Oakland police did not provide more information about the investigation today.