Deceased June 24, 2016
My father, John "Wheels" Wheeler, died on June 24 in his hometown of Anniston, Ala.
Pop prepared for Amherst at Deerfield and was proud to be one of Frank Boyden’s boys. At Amherst, he was a Deke and member of the varsity tennis team. At his 60th Reunion in 2013, I had the privilege of traveling with him to Amherst and getting reacquainted with the class of ’53. We took a nostalgic tour of the campus making our way to the gym (to make sure his team pictures were still hanging), then up to Deke and ended our tour at the Lord Jeff. He reminded me that his father, Ray, class of 1910, had been an original stockholder of the Amherst Inn Company. One of the highlights was a luncheon held at the Lord Jeff by the current tennis coach for the 1952 New England Championship team.
While Pop treasured his experiences in New England, he was an Alabamian at heart. After Amherst, he joined the family banking business and had a distinguished career with the Anniston National Bank/Regions Bank, ultimately retiring as President/CEO in the mid-’90s. He came along at a time when bank presidents knew their depositors. His office was on the first floor, just off the main lobby and it was by choice. He wanted to stay connected. Pop was a successful banker, but he also had a civic calling. The same bank office had a large window overlooking Anniston’s main drag where he could keep an eye on his hometown and its citizens. As part of his civic duties, he helped lead a successful fundraising campaign to revitalize downtown. For his efforts, he was awarded the Anniston Star’s Citizen of the Year. As Mike Palmer ’53 noted after a visit, “Your father was a one-man chamber of commerce.”
He leaves behind Jane, his wife of 55 years, son Greg of Chicago, daughter Leslie of Atlanta, and Ray ’84 also of Atlanta. In addition, he is survived by his eight grandchildren, his brother Porter ’62, his wife Mary of Washington, D.C., and their son, Mark ’04, of San Francisco.
Ray Wheeler ’84