John Essex Wheeler, 89, of Bargersville, passed away Friday Jan. 31, 2014, at Community Hospital South in Indianapolis.
He was born July 11, 1924 in Indianapolis to Agnes Lorraine (Essex) and Elmer Wheeler and graduated from Arsenal Tech in Indianapolis. He joined the Navy on May 25, 1942 and served in World War II in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.
He married Maryellen (Fisher) Wheeler on Sept. 21, 1951 in Southport. She survives. John retired in 1986 from Ford Motor Company in Indianapolis after 28 years of service as an electrician pyrometer and instrument repair and was a member of IBEW.
He was a member of the Masonic Lodge No. 545 Union Village, Indianapolis Valley of the Scottish Rite, and Murat Shrine Temple.
After World War II, he was part of the “Hot Rod” revolution that swept the nation and was a runner up in the NHRA Nationals with his 1935 Ford B-Gas Dragster. He was an avid auto mechanic and even raced in NASCAR events. A 50-year lifetime member of the Cluster Busters Hot Rod Club, he enjoyed going to meetings with the club and going to car shows. He could often be found in his shop tinkering with the 1935 Ford coupe he still owned.
He grew up during the Great Depression and lived on his grandparents’ farm during the roughest portion, and when the opportunity presented itself he bought a farm and lived the life he loved. Deemed the Circle W Ranch the farm became his passion. Cattle, pigs, chickens and horses were all part of the ranch.
John and Maryellen had an enjoyable retirement and spent several winters in Florida and Alabama and traveled throughout the U.S. and Caribbean. John loved spending time with his family and adored his grandchildren. He loved to travel but most enjoyed his ranch.
He is survived by his wife Maryellen (Fisher) Wheeler of Bargersville; one son, John Essex Wheeler II married to Heidi of Carmel; two grandchildren, John (Jack) Essex Wheeler III and Natalie Ellen Wheeler, both of Carmel; two nieces, and one great-nephew.
He was preceded in death by his parents and brother Carl Wheeler.
Union Village Masonic Lodge No. 545 will conduct a masonic service at 7 p.m. Wednesday with a celebration of life service immediately following conducted by the Rev. Stan Iceongle at Swartz Family Community Mortuary And Memorial Center 300 South U.S. 31 (Morton Street) in Franklin. Friends may call from 3 p.m. until service time Wednesday at the mortuary.
Memorial contributions may be made to Community Hospital Hospice 1402 East County Line Road Indianapolis, IN., 46227.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.swartzmortuary.com.