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Richard B. Wheeler

March 9, 1937 July 20, 2019
Richard B. Wheeler
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Obituary for Richard B. Wheeler

Richard B. Wheeler passed on July 20, 2019, by the side of his wife of sixty years, Ginger Wheeler. Though advised against it, Rick, stubborn as he was, enjoyed his beloved Camel cigarettes and Starbucks coffee up until his last few days. On a beautiful, sun-filled Saturday morning, he was surrounded by family, teary-eyed and smiling. His son, James Wheeler, will never forget his father’s unconditional love and belief in him. His daughter, Cindi Hofstad, will be forever grateful for his fatherly influence in the lives of her two children, Natalie and Ryan Hofstad. Both grandchildren wished nothing more than to make their Papa proud.

Born of Genevieve Wheeler and James Cunningham in 1937, decades before the dawn of technology, Rick was no less than your average country boy. Growing up in small-town Lower Lake, California, Rick immersed himself in the outdoors, learning to shoot, fish, and hunt. His two late sisters, Dorothea Wheeler and Lois Wheeler Allinger, never let “Ricky” forget his beaming, bright red hair.

All that teasing made for a competitive, tough, young man. At the age of seventeen he joined the Navy, developing a lifelong devotion and loyalty to his country. He served in the 7th Fleet on the U.S.S. Hancock from 1954-1958 following the Korean War. A true patriot, Rick could often be seen sporting the Red, White and Blue on the golf course or in the office.

After finishing his service, Rick met the love of his life: a spunky, young lady who caught his attention with a harmless, snide remark. Rick and Ginger married in 1959, marking the beginning of a beautiful family.

Finally outgrowing the California lifestyle, Rick decided to move his family to Great Falls, where he was promoted to a management position with Montgomery Wards. Always the outdoorsman at heart, Montana became home sweet home. It was here that he met lifelong friends, raised his family, and began a 38-year-long career in real estate in 1976. Shortly after, Rick launched the brokerage firm, ERA American Horizon Realty.

Along the Oregon coast, through the mountains of Canada, and the lakes of Montana, he and Ginger ventured in their motorhome, collecting memories, fruit jars and Borden’s milk bottles along the way. On cruises to Alaska and trips to California, Rick taught his grandson, Ryan, how to be a man and put family first.

A man of many talents, Rick always kept busy. For thirty years, he played in the Fourth of July Golf Tournament in Whitefish – the thrill of competition keeping him coming back. On weekends at the trap shooting club, he loved to tease the young men who couldn’t seem to beat the “old man.” Rain, shine, or snow – he could be found hunting every single fall season alongside his close friends. He would only return home for the birth of his first grandbaby, Natalie, born in the middle of the rut!

Rick’s life was defined by generosity, love for his family and friends, and a rare wisdom. We cannot live without him, so we won’t. His wife, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and dear friends will hold him in their hearts and minds, forever.

The funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, July 27, 2019 at New City Church in Great Falls, Montana with open-casket viewing beginning at 10:15 AM. The burial service with military honors will be held thereafter at Mount Olivet Cemetery.

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