Richard G. Wheeler, 94
December 25, 1927- November 7, 2022
Richard G. Wheeler died on November 7, 2022 after living 94 years of what he often described as an exceptional life loaned by God to a remarkably average person.
He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 57 years, Louisa Hardy Wheeler in 2008; a beloved son Ronald Edward Wheeler in 2001; a brother Donald Wheeler; and a sister Mabel Stearns.
He is survived by two sons, Richard G. Wheeler and Roy H. Wheeler and their wives, Kathy and Linda; grandchildren (and spouses) Colin Wheeler (Alison Trachet), Laurel Wheeler (Jeff Farner), Marissa Wheeler, Julie (Daniel) Neri; Laurie (Jonathan) Christopher; great grandson Elliot Neri; Sir Bob Geldof of London; and godchild Fifi Geldof.
During his life he was a combination of sailor, soldier, educator, and somewhat artist, author, and adventurer.
He was born in Kansas City, Missouri on Christmas Day in 1927 to Harry and Esther Wheeler and graduated from Westport High School in 1945, the University of Missouri in 1950, and Washington University in St Louis where he received his MEd in 1965. During his elementary school years he was awarded a scholarship for art to the Kansas City Art Institute. In high school his artwork was published in a history book of the city. He was an Eagle Scout from Troop 86 in Kansas City, Missouri.
In 1951 he met and married the love of his life at the Queen Bee Restaurant, while serving at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. Louisa had immigrated to the United States from England shortly after WWII, having survived evacuation during the war and the Battle of London. They were inseparable.
During WWII he served in the Navy on the US Navy tanker, USS Chemung. During the Korean War he served in the Army as an artillery forward observer with the 555 FA Battalion and the 5th Regimental Combat team. He also served in Vietnam earning the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, among others.
Upon retiring from military service as a Lieutenant Colonel, he began his second career as an educator. He taught Journalism at Eisenhower High School in Lawton, Oklahoma, before moving to Florida, where he taught Journalism and English at Admiral Farragut Academy before being appointed as Headmaster (a position he held for 12 years), followed by being a life member of the Board of Trustees until his death. As headmaster and President of the Board he was instrumental in the admission of girls to the previous all-male school and the addition of an elementary (lower) school, which was subsequently named after him and his wife.
He provided illustrations for the YA books “Ronald Roundworm Is Incompoberate” and “The Schmidlap Detective Agency”. He was the author of two books: “A Tale of Two Campuses” and a self published biography entitled “Yes, We Wrote It Down.”
As an adventurer he travelled to all 50 states and to 48 countries. In 2015 he was selected to the University of Missouri ROTC Hall of Fame. He lived in Pinellas County (Treasure Island and St Pete) for 50 years before moving to Gainesville, FL for the final 7 months of his life. Truly an exceptional life for a remarkably average person.
In his last days he was surrounded by the love of his family.
A celebration of his life will take place graveside with full military honors at Memorial Park in St. Pete on Sunday, November 13 at noon. In lieu of flowers, donations are welcome to be sent to The Admiral Farragut Academy Foundation in the name of Richard Wheeler. He loved to see people in brightly colored clothing, particularly women in flowered dresses. Therefore those in attendance are encouraged to wear flowers in lieu of black.