Celebration of Life for Bill Wheeler

By Gord McNulty, CAHS Vice President

Family and friends gathered at St. Andrew’s United Church in Markham, Ontario on February 6 to celebrate the life of Bill Wheeler. CAHS colleagues included Robert Bradford, CAHS Patron, who was given a ride to the service by Robert Galway; Roger Slauenwhite and I. Toronto Chapter President Sheldon Benner regretted he could not attend on account of illness but Sheldon, Larry Milberry, Paul Hayes and Tom Nettleton visited the funeral home on February 5.

Eulogies were led by Ted Spence, cousin of Bill’s wife, Pat. Ted visited Bill every day he was in the hospital until he passed away on January 21 and recalled many fond memories. Ted noted Bill brought his ever-present sketchbooks to the hospital and shared his many interests conversing with hospital staff. He remembered multi-talented Bill as a man of imposing stature who was an exceptional observer and storyteller. “He always remembered the names of everyone he met,” Ted recalled, noting Bill took great interest in the students he taught as Head of the Art Department at West Hill Collegiate Institute for 28 years. As Ted said, Bill had so many positive experiences to draw upon in reflecting on the long life he enjoyed and the perfect match he had with Pat.

Bill’s eldest son, Doug, recalled how his father developed a mellow personality over the years. He emphasized Bill’s interest in the environment and how he didn’t like to see anything go to waste. “He couldn’t get enough of the compost heap,” Doug said. Bill’s son, Chris, described Bill as an inspiration to his students.

The eulogists recalled how Bill appreciated nature, the great outdoors and camping in addition to his outstanding volunteer contributions as original editor of the CAHS Journal, community service on the local Architectural Conservancy advisory committee and more. He canoed both the Nahanni River in the Yukon and the Stikine River in northern B.C. Bill’s granddaughters, Elizabeth and Katelyn, also shared warm reflections at the service, officiated by Rev. Katherine Selby.

Everyone enjoyed a reception and sharing memories of Bill’s remarkable life and achievements in the church hall after the service.