Wilbur “Wil” Wheaton passed away Aug. 19, 2017, in Meridian, Idaho, at the age of 84. He was born on Sept. 23, 1932, in Rock, Kansas, to Marion Ostrander Wheaton and Eva Ester (Showers) Wheaton.
Wil’s father was an American Baptist minister, so the family moved often, including Andover, Kansas; Rosell, Kansas; Scott City, Kansas (elementary school); and Chanute, Kansas (final years of high school). He graduated from Chanute High School in May 1950. Wil attended Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas, and graduated in 1954, gaining both a degree in mathematics and a wife, by marrying his college sweetheart (Ellen Ann Henning) in January 1954.
After college, Wil began his military service (U.S. Marines) in Quantico, Virginia, and Camp Pendleton, California, then continued his studies by earning a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. Before they knew it, they had three children (Wendy, Kevin, and Deanna) and were moving to California for Wil to begin his career as an educator, (counselor, principal, superintendent). While in California, Wil also earned his Doctorate of Education degree from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and began to pursue one of his favorite pasttimes by becoming a private pilot.
In January 1983, Wil and Ellen returned to Ottawa, Kansas, when Wil became the president of Ottawa University. They served OU for 9.5 years before retiring and moving to Thailand for two years where Wil taught Algebra and English at Sammuk Christian Academy, Bang Saen, Thailand.
Finally retiring in August 1994, Wil and Ellen moved to Sedona, Arizona, where they enjoyed many years of jeeping, hiking, entertaining friends and relatives, and traveling. Wil and Ellen moved to Meridian to be near family as age began to curtail activities.
Wil’s quick wit kept us all laughing, his bar-b-qued tri tip and homemade ice cream and fudge kept us all fed, and his broad shoulders and warm hug soothed every fear or problem. On the day they were engaged, Wil promised Ellen they’d “Never Walk Alone,” and through 63 years of marriage – and even through today – he kept that promise.
Wil was preceded in death by his parents, sister (Wilda Jean Wheaton), and brothers (Paul Wheaton and Myron Wheaton). He is survived by his wife, Ellen Ann, daughter Wendy Den-Herder (Brian), son Kevin Wheaton (Marilee), and daughter Deanna Andrews (William), and six grandchildren, as well as two sisters, Evelyn Price (Bob) and Donnis Hoekstra (Alan), and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
There are two Celebration of Life services, the first was Aug. 26 at Touchmark at Meadow Lake Village, and the second Sept. 9 in Sedona, Arizona. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his memory to Ottawa University, Ottawa, Kansas; Rainbow Acres, Camp Verde, Arizona, or to a charity of your choice.