Remember years ago, when people used CB radios as a form
of communication, and each user had their own unique “handle.”
Rev. Donzel Wease was known as “Circuit Rider” and his
wife Emma was known as “Mama of Many.”
Donzel was born in 1924, the son of Dennis and Ruth
Wease of Cherry Fork. He has two sisters, Oleeta Doty and the late
Through his elementary years, Donzel attended
Grantsville Graded School, except for part of a year in Klipstine.
In 1943, five days before he was to graduate from
Calhoun County High School, a tragedy struck. His family’s home burnt,
killing his mother and sister, and hospitalizing his father, who was in
After his father recovered, Donzel graduated from Coin
Electric School in Chicago and received his diploma. During World War
II, he worked in a shipyard in Norfolk, Va., as an electrician.
Emma was born on Pine Creek Road in 1930, the daughter
of Cleo and Phelma Hathaway Gainer. She has five siblings, Delma
Whytsell, Wanza Marsh, Greta Marks, Delbert Lee “Bo” Gainer and Jennings
“Buck” Gainer, all now deceased.
Emma attended Pine Creek School and graduated from CCHS
in 1948. She recalls working every acre of her family’s farm. She was a
In May of 1948, a revival was held at St. Paul Church.
Donzel would ride with his preacher from Five Forks and be in charge of
devotions. On the ride home, Donzel asked his friend the preacher, “Who
is the song leader at revival?”
The preacher dismissed his question, but after the third
night of revival, Donzel asked again who was the song leader, and the
preacher told him it was Cleo Gainer’s daughter.
Donzel said that he knew Cleo’s three daughters. The
pastor responded by saying that Cleo had four daughters. After revival
was over, he didn’t see Emma.
In June, Donzel, as president of the 4-H leaders, and
Emma, as cook, reconnected at 4-H camp. After courting for awhile, they
purchased a marriage license in Harrisville.
Although Emma’s father wanted them to wait until after
her youngest brother graduated from high school to get married, they
eloped on Dec. 12, 1948. They were married three weeks before they told
Donzel and Emma Wease in 1949.
Donzel said he tried several jobs, but nothing ever
worked out. He was never satisfied and felt he should be happy in his
work. Deep in his heart, he was being called to the ministry.
Donzel began preaching for the United Methodist Church
during their first year of marriage. His first assignment was in Roane
County, which included four churches.
Since they were newlyweds, the churches gave them gifts
to help them get started. One of their most memorable contributions was
a live chicken.
Donzel began his studies for the ministry at Wesleyan
College, and continued at Salem College for two years. He graduated with
a bachelor of divinity degree from Wesleyan. It took eight years to
complete his degree.
Donzel gives a lot of credit to his wife for his
schooling. He would work through the day, and while driving to church
services, Emma would tell him what she had studied. Donzel said that she
earned a “PHT (putting hubby through)” degree.
Because of Donzel’s job, the couple lived in 17 counties
throughout West Virginia. When asked about the churches that he preached
at, they said, “People were rich in some and poor in others, but they
are all special to us.”
Emma said that while their children, Jane, Dennis,
Donzel, Dana and Ruth, were growing up, neighborhood kids seemed to
flock to their house, which made her a “mama of many.”
They take great pride in their five children, nine
grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.
While Donzel was busy with visitation and church duties,
Emma went above and beyond her motherly duties and taught son Dana how
to throw a football.
After 42 years of speaking God’s word, Donzel retired in
1991. They moved back to Pine Creek and built a home on six acres of
land that Emma’s father gave to them. They enjoy feeding the birds and
watching the deer out their front window.
Even though the couple have battled illnesses, they try
to help out at their church.
Rev. Donzel and Emma Wease
Circuit Rider and Mama of Many have touched more people
than the radio waves of yesteryear.