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October 27th, 2021

James E. Wheeler, 78, died Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. 

He was born Nov. 8, 1942 to M.E. and Murray (Hart) Wheeler in Erick, Okla. 

He married his wife, Regina, Sept. 12, 1965. She survives. 

He was a proud tribal member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. 

He graduated from Phillips High School in Borger, Texas and later attended Marin Community College in Kentfield, Calif., where he played basketball, and West Texas State University in Canyon, Texas.

He began his career in petroleum in 1965, when moved to Liberal to help Don Rash launch Rash Oil Company. He continued his career in Southwest Kansas for years with Rash Oil and Northern Natural Gas. He later moved to Houston, with Enron and spent nearly two decades in California with Mojave Operating Company. He retired in 2010.

He served in the US Army and then the US Army Reserves through 1971. 

He was an avid reader and lifelong learner and jokester, often pulling pranks and having fun. He enjoyed fishing, golf, Kansas Jayhawks basketball, the Dallas Cowboys, mathematics, dancing with his wife or daughter, the horse races and playing cards. 

He also enjoyed raising horses and cattle for many years alongside his father-in-law in a family venture in Kansas that also extended to New Mexico and Colorado through the years.

He was a member of the Elks Lodge and also served in the Lions Club in Liberal, Plains and Bakersfield, Calif. He was also a member of the American Society of Metals.

Survivors also include son, Don, Holquaim, Wash.; daughter, Shanda Wheeler Kelso and William Kelso, Durant, Okla.; grandsons, Aaron Wheeler, Cameron, Mo., and Brody Kelso, Norman, Okla.; sister, Charlotte Garlington, Irving, Texas; and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Phyllis Helmer and Carolyn McElroy; brother, Ed Wheeler; and in-laws Ray Erlene Fogleman.

• Cremation arrangements were under the direction of Gordon Funeral Home of Durant, Okla.

A family visitation will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021 at the Miller Mortuary Chapel at 908 N Lincoln Avenue in  Liberal.

Memorials can be sent to Miller Mortuary, PO Box 826  Liberal, KS 67905-0826  for the family or in tribute to James at Texas Boys Ranch PO Box 5665 Lubbock, TX 79408; Post ARC PO Box 13 Post, TX 79356 or a favorite charity.

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