Carl Wheeler, 83, of Safford, passed away on Saturday, May 27, 2017 in Gilbert AZ. Carl was born on January 29, 1934 in Bowie, Cochise County, AZ. He was the second child of Ben Mason & Lena Pearle Inglis Wheeler with an older sister, Betty Jean.
His early childhood was spent on the family homestead known as the Wheeler place, just northeast of the town of Bowie in southeastern Arizona. The Wheeler Place is still to this day a location on the Arizona maps. When his sister was old enough to go to school they moved south to the town of Paradise. Later they moved to Lancaster, CA where he started first grade. He also went to grade school in Plantsite, Morenci and Virden, NM where his father obtained employment as a carpenter.
When Carl was twelve, the family moved to Pima, AZ. He attended the Pima Schools and during his senior year his mother passed away due to cancer. After graduating, his sister was away attending college and so his father decided to go to California so Carl enrolled in Easter Arizona Junior College (EAJC). He had participated in all the sports while in high school and he continued his interest in sports at EAJC.
He was drafted into the U. S, Army in 1956 and went to Fort Ord for basic training. On his first furlough, he married his high school sweetheart, Verla Weech in the Salt Lake LDS Temple. His next tour of duty was in Fort Lee, VA. Verla joined him there and their first home was in Colonial Heights. After completing his training in Virginia, he was sent to White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico.
Completing his Army career in May of 1958, he returned home to Pima where he obtained employment for the summer with the U.S. Forest Service. In September, they moved to Tucson where he taught and coached basketball for four years. They then moved to Flagstaff for one year to attend NAU where Carl received his Master’s degree. In 1965, they moved back to the Gila Valley where he taught and coached for two years in Pima with his basketball team winning the State championship. He taught for one year in Morenci and then in Safford until he retired in 1990.
Carl was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served as a counselor in the Branch Presidency while in Flagstaff and twice as a counselor in the Bishopric in Safford. He also served on the High Council. Many of his church callings were with the youth, serving in the scouting program. At Thanksgiving time, he smoked turkeys for many people, was an EMT and worked part time for the ambulance company. He helped his friend Ralph Smith with many outdoor Dutch Oven dinners, cooking for many organizations and family events. He loved to travel and during his lifetime had visited 48 states, many of them with his children. He loved the mountains and spent many enjoyable years at Columbine with the family both at the Weech cabin and later at his own cabin.
Carl and Verla served two missions for the LDS church, one at Cove Fort, UT in 1999 and the other at Martins Cove, WY in 2002, returning the summer of 2003 to fill in for a missionary couple who had to leave for health reasons. The couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on August 9, 2016.
He is survived by his wife Verla of Safford, daughters; Carla Wheeler of Safford and Donelle (Randy) Quinn of Gilbert, AZ, sons; Joseph (Loyda) Wheeler of Austin, TX and Christopher Wheeler of Safford, 9 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild, two step-brothers; Marvin Kuchar of Utah and William (Cynthia) Kucher of New Mexico.
Carl was preceded in death by his parents, Ben Mason & Lena Pearle Inglis Wheeler, sister Betty Jean Wheeler Lawrence and brother-in-law Claude Lee Lawrence.
Funeral services were conducted Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at the Pima LDS Chapel with interment in the Pima Cemetery with military honors by the Gila Valley Honor Guard.
Arrangements are under the direction of McDougal’s Caldwell Funeral Chapel & Gila Valley Crematory. Online condolences may be extended at www.caldwellfuneralchapel.com.