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Jesse Milford Wheiler Jr., 90, passed away on March 8, 2023 at his home in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He fought the good fight. He was born on January 14, 1933 in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Jesse Milford Wheiler Sr. and Helen Mary Siegel.
Jess grew up in Union, New Jersey, where he first became active in what would become a life-long passion, the Boy Scouts of America. Upon graduation from Union High School, he drove across the country in a 1939 Ford, camping along the way, to enroll at Utah State Agricultural College (now Utah State University) with the plan of becoming a U.S. Forest Service ranger. While in Logan, Jess joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a decision that may have been influenced by his infatuation with a beautiful young woman, Gayle Ewer. They were married in the Logan Temple on June 6, 1955. Over the next nine years, five children followed – Mike, Kent, Jon, Carol, and Bob – and their loving family has grown to include five wonderful spouses, 21 grandchildren and their spouses, and 33 great grandchildren.
Jess graduated with a BS degree in 1955 and later added a Master of Education in 1980. His first job out of college was teaching seminary for a year in Roberts, Idaho, followed by four years in Preston as a professional scout executive with the Cache Valley Council. Their young family moved to New Jersey for a couple years while Jess worked for his father in his uniform business. But Jess loved teaching and life in the west, and they moved back to Preston in 1963. He taught seminary and institute with the Church Education System for the next 31 years, in Preston (both Eastside and Westside school districts), Smithfield (Skyview), Pasadena Community College, Springville Utah, and finally Idaho Falls, where he retired in 1994.
Jess served as Bishop of the Preston 4th Ward from 1981 to 1986. He and Gayle served a two-year mission from 1998-2000 working with the released time seminary program on the Navajo Reservation in Kayenta, Arizona.
Jess loved sports, especially baseball, and helped coach the Preston High baseball team for several years. His special talent in sports, however, was radio broadcasting. He was the “Voice of the Preston Indians” on KPST for many years, and his play-by-play of Preston football and basketball is legendary. For 75 years his greatest passion was working in the Boy Scout program. His scouting service, activities and honors would fill several pages, but suffice it to say that he was awarded the Silver Beaver and the Outstanding Eagle Scout Award from the National Eagle Scout Association, and he was inducted into the Grant Teton Council Hall of Fame in 2010.
Jess is survived by his wife, children, and 53 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and his granddaughter Andrea.
In lieu of flowers, Jess would appreciate donations to the Colorado Rockies so they could get a decent pitcher, but rather than throw money down a rat hole, please provide a donation or service to a local Boy or Girl Scouting organization in your area.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, March 17, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. at Webb Funeral Home, 1005 S. 800 E., Preston, Idaho. A visitation will be held Friday from 9:30-10:30 a.m. prior to the services. Graveside services will be held in the Providence, Utah (River Heights) Cemetery at 2:45 p.m. Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at webbmortuary.com
The services will be streamed live and may be watched Friday at 11 a.m. (MST) by clicking on the following link:
Friday, March 17, 2023
9:30 - 10:30am (Mountain time)
Friday, March 17, 2023
Starts at 10:45am (Mountain time)
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