James H. Wheeler, Jr. was born September 30, 1925 in Breckenridge, Texas. He was the son of James H. Wheeler and Mabel Parnell Wheeler. He died May 4th, 2022 at the age of 96 years. Preceded him in death by his mother, father, sister Dorcas June Brooks, niece and Deborah Traw, and wife Reba Jean Wheeler.
Visitation will be held from 5:00 to 7:00 pm on Wednesday, May 11 at The Hamil Family Funeral Home, 6449 Buffalo Gap Road. A Celebration of his life will be held at 11:00 am on Thursday, May 12 at St. Paul United Methodist Church.
James graduated from Paschal High School in Ft. Worth, Texas and attended North Texas Agricultural College and Texas Christian University.
He entered the service of our country in 1944 and flew as an aviation radio radar operator on Navy carrier-based dive bombers in World War II.
As an architect, he became a partner in the architectural engineering firm of Boone Pope Wheeler, Architects Engineers, responsible for the design of many major educational, institutional, public and commercial buildings throughout West Texas. Local projects of note included Abilene City Hall, Abilene Civic Center, Taylor County Coliseum, Taylor County Detention Center, Science Buildings at Hardin Simmons University and McMurry University, Student Center and Amy Graves Ryan Center of Fine Arts at McMurry University, First Financial Bank, Abilene, the Enterprise Building, Abilene, renovations and major addition to the U.S. Post Office and Court House, Abilene.
Wheeler was active in the Texas Society of Architects and the American Institute of Architects, serving as president of the Abilene Chapter, elected to the State Board of Directors where he served as Treasurer and Vice President. Nationally he chaired the American Institute of Architects Committee on Design for Commerce and Industry. He was named a Fellow in the AIA in 1992.
He served on the Board of Directors of West Texas Rehabilitation Center and chaired the Committee on Building and Grounds for many years. Service for the City of Abilene included Chair of the Board Building Standards, Chair, Electrical Board of Examiners and member of the Mechanical and Electrical Swimming Pool Board of Appeals. He is a past president of the Abilene Country Club.
James was an active member in the Elmwood West Lions Club and served as Lion District Governor for 23 counties in 1971 – 1972. He was member of the Board of Directors of Texas Lions Camp in Kerrville, a camp for physically disadvantaged and diabetic children for 44 years and was the president in 1979 – 1981. He chaired the Camp Improvements Committee for many years. He was one of the founders of the 23 county District 2E – 1 Lions Tissue and Eye Bank in 1974 and was the volunteer Executive Director for 24 years. He was inducted into The Texas Lions Hall of Fame in 1990 and received the prestigious Lions Ambassador of Good Will Award in 2004, the highest honor that Lions Clubs International can bestow on one of its members
Wheeler was an active member of St. Paul United Methodist Church, serving in many capacities including Trustee, Chairman of the Board and Scoutmaster for the church sponsored Boy Scout Troop. He served as Chair of City Board of Missions for United Methodist Churches, Chair, Board of Trustees, Sears Memorial Methodist Center. He was a longtime member of the Propheteers Sunday School Class.
He is survived by his son Mickey Wheeler and wife Linda of Lewisville, Texas, daughter Paula Schanbacher of Dallas, Texas, grandson David Wheeler and wife Tina, great gran daughters Lauren and Ellie Wheeler of Flower Mound, Texas, niece Donna June McNett and husband Jim of Peoria, Arizona.
Memorials may be made to St. Paul United Methodist Church, 525 Beech, Abilene, Texas 79601 or Texas Lions Camp P.O. Box 290247 Kerrville, Texas 78029 – 0247.