Born in Athens, Texas on August 20, 1933 to Verda Hayden and Arter Columbus Wheeler, Clifford Eugene Wheeler spent his formative years in Lubbock. Leaving school at an early age, he began his search for a better life than he had in
Post-Depression Era West Texas. Enlisting in the US Air Force on November 27, 2951, he served his country while also serving his own aims and ambitions. In the Air Force, he experienced opportunities to travel, develop skills,
and discover an untapped intellect. Cliff was honorably discharged from the Air Force on April 25, 1958 and completed his reserve obligation on November 26, 1959. He received medals for National Defense and Good Conduct.
It was while stationed in the UK that he met and married Margaret, in 1957. The couple returned to Texas and he began his education at the University of Texas in Austin, earning a degree in Economics.
In 1959, daughter Kathryn was born. Cliff furthered his education, earning his Master's Degree in 1962 and accepting a scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania to work on his Doctorate. Cliff and Margaret divorced in 1963
and he resumed his studies at the University of Missouri at Columbia. He married Carol Varner in 1965 and became the loving father to young daughters Lisa Carol and Jeanne Kay. The family remained in Columbia, Missouri until
Cliff earned his PhD in 1971.
When offered a teaching position, Cliff became a full-time Professor of Economics at NSU in Tahlequah. Cliff taught for 25 years while Carol taught Spanish and English at Tahlequah High School. The couple enjoyed a life of friendships,
road trips, boating, camping, fishing, and waterskiing on Lake Tenkiller. Cliff also engaged in hobbies such as banjo and guitar playing and furniture restoration. Building their forever home in Tahlequah, Cliff and Carol oversaw every
aspect of the construction with the couple doing much of the labor themselves. The couple loved flea market shopping and antiquing. Cliff hung some of their wooden masks on trees and Carol hung brass trivets on the kitchen walls.
Trips to see family and visits from his daughters rounded out their home life. Consulting work and income properties augmented Cliff's business life.
In 1992 both Cliff and Carol retired and pursued a passion for RV travel, hitting the highways, meeting new friends, and going new places for weeks and months on end. Cliff played his guitar and banjo, getting great pleasure from
bluegrass festivals and country jam sessions found at most camping sites. Adding to their joy were the additions of grandchildren: Luke, Aaron, John, Sarah, Angela and Audrey.
Financially secure, surrounded by love, enjoying the fruits of the years of respected academic work, these were the golden days. When his beloved Carol passed in 2003, Cliff had to face one of life's inevitable cruelties and continue on a
road that now seemed to have no destination or direction.
Cliff began a new life, with the help of RV clubs, friends, family, and closer bonds with his daughters. He loved meeting new dance partners, taking in happy hours, and following a circuit of dances and get togethers throughout the
Southwest. He picked the guitar and banjo, didn't allow his mind to get lazy, and stayed current with news reading in order to continue learning.
These were the major life events and accomplishments of Cliff Wheeler. But there was more to the man than what happened to him, where he went, and what he did. Cliff was a philosophical thinker to the end. Not big on small talk,
he preferred to engage in ideas, observations, and theories. He had a keen intellect but never looked down on others. He could converse easily and effortlessly with anyone. His wry humor and quick smile were always accompanied
with a twinkle in his eyes. Cliff knew how to lounge around and enjoy life, but was always up for new projects, whether making a home repair or teaching himself quantum physics at age 83.
He faced both his earlier and later health difficulties with courage, humor, and a determination that awed doctors and caregivers. In the days before his passing, Cliff made it clear that he lived a good life and was not afraid of letting go.
He had the work ethic and good fortune to enjoy all the things that were important to him or that had meaning and value to him in his life. He leaves the world a better place for having lived in it, with his legacy of love, family, friends,
inspiring accomplishments, and enumerable students whose lives he enhanced.
Cliff is survived by his daughters Kathy Valentine and Jeanne Kay Wheeler of Austin, TX and Lisa VanOrsdol of Bristow, OK; his grandchildren Luke and Aaron VanOrsdol, John Beavers, Sarah Wheeler, Angela Eastman and
Audrey Weisburd; 7 great grandchildren; his brothers Pat and Lee Wheeler and his sisters Sheila Davis, Janice Sartan and Dana Wheeler.