Warren Bussey

picture of warren bussey

Warren Bussey was born in the small town of Bobo, Texas, on November 21, 1913. He was one of eight boys and four girls raised in a tightly-knit family within a caring community. Growing up, Bussey quickly learned the value of hard work, often pitching in to support his family from an early age on his parents’ farms. These early lessons instilled in him a strong work ethic, shaping him into the ambitious business owner he would later become.

During World War II, Bussey served his country and was stationed in Victorville, California, in 1944. He was honorably discharged in 1946. In 1951, he crossed paths with the love of his life, Mamie Eva (“Jimmie”) Jackson, with whom he shared a loving marriage for over thirty years until her passing in 1982.

Entrepreneurial Ventures

In 1948, Warren Bussey embarked on his entrepreneurial journey, establishing his janitorial service under the banner of Bussey Maintenance in Fullerton, California. Bussey would work towards expanding his business to support his community and provide economic advancement and job opportunities, especially for those facing employment challenges such as veterans, single mothers, and people of color. His business would eventually grow to include 6 trucks and 40 employees, expanding its reach from Orange County to Los Angeles.

In 1955, Bussey and his wife diversified their business ventures by opening Jimmy’s Café, a soul food restaurant and the first black business in Santa Ana on Fourth Street. According to OC Weekly, “Bussey coined the phrase ‘hard work and soul food’ while branching out from those two businesses to own a shoeshine stand and upholstery shop.”

Community Involvement

In 1957, Warren Bussey attained the valued status of Master Mason, becoming one of the four charter members of the Wiley L. Kimbrough (WLK) Lodge No. 91 in Santa Ana, California. Bussey emerged as a pillar of the community, assuming the role of a father figure to countless Masons who joined the WLK lodge over the years. In recognition of his commitment, he was granted a 50-year membership pen in Masonry in 2007. Seven years later, in 2014, he was granted the title of Honorary Past Master of the WLK Lodge of Santa Ana. His highest achievement came in 2015 when he was elevated to the valued rank of 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason—an accomplishment he held dear to his heart.


warren bussey with award

Later Years and Legacy

After 44 years of outstanding work, Warren Bussey eventually retired in 1984 at the age of 71. Bussey is a respected figure in Orange County, embodying the essence of a true leader in Santa Ana. At 103 years old, he continued to serve as an active member of the WLK Lodge, inspiring generations with his unwavering dedication to community service. His presence was cherished at the annual Black History Parade each February, where he captivated audiences with his youthful spirit and infectious enthusiasm, reminding everyone that age is merely a number. Mr. Bussey passed away at the age of 108 on May 9, 2022.

Reference Works

“Brief Timeline of Santa Ana History.” Raitt street. https://www.lahistoryarchive.org/resources/Raitt_Street_Chronicles/timeline.html.

Berkman, Leslie. “Brotherhood : A Black Masonic Lodge Comes to the Aid of Its Long-Lost Founder.” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 1995. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1995-02-13-mn-31579-story.html.

Kopetman, Roxana. “At 108, Mr. Bussey Has Stories to Tell.” Orange County Register, December 28, 2021. https://www.ocregister.com/2021/12/28/at-108-mr-bussey-has-stories-to-tell/.

“Why Are There so Few African Americans in Fullerton?” Jesse’s Blog. Accessed June 6, 2023. http://jesselatour.blogspot.com/2011/10/why-are-there-so-few-african-americans.html.

Precinct Reporter News. “Remembering Warren Bussey: Legacy of Resilience.” Precinct Reporter Group News, June 9, 2022. https://www.precinctreporter.com/remembering-warren-bussey-legacy-of-resilience/.

San Román, Gabriel. “OC’s Oldest African-American’s (103 Years!) Secret for Long Life: ‘Soul Food and Hard Work.’” OC Weekly, December 19, 2016. https://www.ocweekly.com/ocs-oldest-african-americans-103-years-secret-for-long-life-soul-food-and-hard-work-7743052/.

Spectrum News. “At 106, Orange County’s Oldest African American Is Still Going.” At 106, Orange County’s Oldest African American Still Going, January 8, 2020. https://spectrumnews1.com/ca/orange-county/human-interest/2020/01/08/at-106--orange-county-s-oldest-african-american-is-still-going.

Warren Bussey, “Official Obituary of Warren Bussey.” Department of the Army United States of America, Brown Colonial Mortuary, last updated 2024. https://www.browncolonialmortuary.net/obituary/Warren-Bussey

Close window