We celebrate the rich, long life of Shirley Wheeler, 97, who passed away December 5, 2021 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Born October 18, 1924 in Taylorville, Illinois, she graduated from Taylorville High School in 1942.
In a fairy tale ceremony, Shirley married Felix H. Wheeler in 1944 at the beautiful U.S. Naval Academy chapel in Annapolis. As the wife of a career Navy pilot, Shirley was instrumental in settling new homes from the Florida Keys to Rhode Island. Never landing long in one place, her remarkable independence and resilience was the fabric that held the family together throughout frequent transitions.
Upon Felix’s retirement in 1964, they returned to Illinois to continue their educations. Shirley graduated with honors from the University of Illinois in 1965 and received her master’s degree in 1971. She served as a dedicated and exceptional educator in Monticello, IL for many years.
Shirley has lived a long, rich life and is the last of her longtime high school friends from Taylorville to leave us. She tackled the challenges of age with determination and grace. She has been a role model for her daughter and much-loved granddaughters.
The following quote captures the feelings of many who knew Shirley:
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” — Winnie the Pooh
Shirley is survived by her daughter, Diane Wheeler- (Denny) Bast, Des Moines, IA; two greatly-loved granddaughters, Heather Hill, Des Moines and Nikki Peña- (Tom) Infande, Winter Park, FL; three beloved nieces, Kathy (Rick) Franke, Pacific Grove, CA, Linda Rushing, Centralia, IL, and Nancy (Mike) Anderson, Yanceyville, NC; and a dear nephew, Kenneth Hunter, Pacific Grove, CA. Also, Shirley leaves behind many cousins and friends in the Christian County area.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Clifford C. and Mary Louise (McWard) Hunter of Taylorville, IL, husband Felix, LCDR, USN, Ret., and brother Clifford Eugene Hunter, CAPT, USN, Ret.
Funeral Services will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to your local community food bank organization or the First Presbyterian Church of Taylorville, IL where Shirley maintained a treasured membership since her childhood. McClure Funeral Home and Cremation Services in Taylorville, Illinois is assisting the family with arrangements. Memories of Shirley, or condolences to her family, may be shared online at www.mcclurefuneralhome.com.