Dennis Wevely

One Clear Intention: Caring for Kids

Martial Artist Leaves Estate to Rady Children’s Hospital

 It was a life-long love for children and a deep dedication to the study of martial arts that led to the serendipitous meeting of two best friends.

Tom Cookson and Dennis Wevely studied Tang Soo Do, a Korean martial art, under the same instructor for more than 15 years, yet never crossed paths. It wasn’t until years later when Cookson began a free community martial arts ministry at The Church in Rancho Bernardo that the two met.

“Mr. Wevely read about Kicks for Christ in the newspaper and showed up wanting to help teach the class,” Cookson says. The two often addressed one another as “Mr. Wevely” or “Mr. Cookson,” a title of respect often used in martial arts. Wevely was a third degree black belt and sought a way to give back to youth in his community. Together, the pair taught basic self-defense skills to help kids stay safe, and later expanded the program to include a special course for women.

“He loved kids and the concept of teaching,” Cookson says. Over the years, the two men became close friends, teaching together at least twice a week.

When Wevely was diagnosed with indolent lymphoma, typically a slow-growing form of cancer. “We thought we had a lot of time together because of the slow-moving nature of this cancer, but in his case, it started growing quickly. He fought until the very end, teaching martial arts, running marathons and even riding his bike right after chemo treatments,” Cookson says.

On July 4, 2014, Wevely passed away with his wife Lisa by his side.

As part of his plan, Wevely gifted his estate to Rady Children’s. “From the very first time we talked about his plans, he made it very clear that he wanted it to go to Rady Children’s Hospital,” Cookson says. “It was just what was going to happen and I never really asked why. It wasn’t in question. He just cared about kids so much and wanted to do everything he could to help.”

As Wevely’s best friend and executor of his estate, Cookson saw to it that his friend’s intentions were carried out. “I just thought it was a very noble purpose. And I made sure that it happened. There was no question that anything would be done differently.”

The note Wevely left Cookson instructing him on what to do after his passing closed with a promise that the men’s friendship would never end, “Tom, Love ya my brother, see you on the other side.”

Have you left Rady Children’s in your will, trust or estate plan? If so, we’d like to thank and honor you. Please contact Elise Webster at 858-966-7537 or