Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Louisa Wheeler

A wife, mother and a citizen of the world

TREASURE ISLAND — When little Londoner Louisa Hardy was 9, the Germans attacked her city. Her family's home was destroyed in the Blitz.

Her world was much smaller when Richard Wheeler met her. She was serving hot dogs and hamburgers at a concession stand in a small Oklahoma town after her family moved there from England.

"I went up to get a hot dog or something and fell immediately in love," said Wheeler, 80.

She was pretty. She spoke with a Cockney accent. She wiggled a little when she fetched his meal, Wheeler jokes.

Wheeler was a second lieutenant in the Army. They married three months later.

• • •

Wheeler likes to say they were always together except for three wars — World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

When he returned from the second, Mrs. Wheeler had the first of their three sons.

Motherhood became her mission. She could read her boys' faces if something went wrong at school.

She was stern but fun. Her boys always knew her discipline came from love.

"Even when she was reprimanding us, we knew afterwards it was for a reason," said her eldest son, Rich Wheeler, 56, of Gainesville. "We deserved it."

Mrs. Wheeler and her husband traveled the world. With a son working for Pan Am Airlines, they flew standby and packed light.

"It was hard to catch them home," said her brother, Sidney Hardy, 70 of Bethany, Okla.

On their first trip to China, the capital was called Peking. Bicycles cluttered the roadways.

On their second visit a few years ago, cars clogged the streets. Pollution obscured the view from the Great Wall.

On one trip, they met Bob Geldof, a British rock star and activist who founded Live Aid, a concert to benefit Africa. They became close friends.

At a party of Geldof's in England, Mrs. Wheeler met Mick Jagger. Her comment later? "He's not as ugly in person as he is in his picture."

Mrs. Wheeler was never impressed with status or money or rock music. As a hostess at Admiral Farragut Academy, she would make conversation with everyone. And they all loved her.

"It didn't make any difference whether you were a division head or a student or a cafeteria worker or a maintenance man," her husband said.

• • •

A couple of years ago, her memory started to fade. A doctor diagnosed Alzheimer's.

Her husband wouldn't part with her until she could no longer walk.

On Saturday, just after midnight, the nursing home called her husband. It was close.

He sat beside her bed and held her hand. He played English pub music, Mrs. Wheeler's favorite. They were together when she stopped breathing.

Stephanie Garry can be reached at (727) 892-2374 or sgarry@sptimes.com.

>>Biography

Louisa Wheeler

Born: May 4, 1930

Died: Sept. 26, 2008

Survivors: husband Richard Wheeler of Treasure Island; two sons, Richard Wheeler of Gainesville and Roy Wheeler of St. Petersburg; brother, Sid Hardy of Bethany, Okla.; four grandchildren, Colin, Laurel, Marissa and Julie Wheeler.

A wife, mother and a citizen of the world 09/27/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 29, 2008 3:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dade City's Wild Things blocks PETA officials at gates for court-ordered site inspection

    Wildlife

    Times Staff Writer

    DADE CITY — Dade City's Wild Things founder Kathy Stearns refused to let People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals officials enter her facility on Thursday for a court-ordered inspection, court filings show.

    Dade City's Wild Things founder Kathy Stearns refused to let People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals officials enter her facility on Thursday for a court-ordered inspection, court filings show. This comes four days after 19 Wild Things tigers arrived at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma. A judge had granted an emergency injunction July 14, ordering Stearns not remove any tigers pending the upcoming PETA inspection. Photo from Facebook page of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma.
  2. St. Petersburg City Council approves $326 million sewage fix

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Last week the City Council learned no criminal charges would result from the up to 200 million gallons of sewage St. Petersburg's sewer system released from …

    [LARA CERRI  |  Times]
  3. Pasco commuters watch out: Broken water main restricts State Road 52

    Public Safety

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A water main break has caused a portion of State Road 52 — one of the busiest roads in Pasco County — to buckle on Thursday afternoon, reducing three lanes of westbound traffic to just one.

  4. Police identify man who drove along Clearwater Beach sand

    Public Safety

    CLEARWATER — Clearwater Police have identified the Pinellas Park man who they said drove his car over beach chairs and umbrellas along Clearwater Beach and streamed it on Facebook on Thursday afternoon.

    Clearwater Police took a suspect into custody Thursday afternoon after he drove along Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island, running over beach chairs and umbrellas. [Courtesy of Clearwater Police]
  5. Once trapped and wounded, manatee and calf return to the wild

    Wildlife

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The small crowd readied cameras and craned their necks, peering over heads and through bodies to try and catch a glimpse. Brittany Pharel, 10, wanted to see the hulking manatees, a mother and her calf, laid out on blue tarps Thursday along the edge of the Pithlachascotee River.

    Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo's associate veterinarian Lauren Smith, 33, examines the heart rate of a manatee calf named Cottee just before it was released into the waters of the Pithlachascotee River on Thursday. 
Cottee's mother Pascow was released at the same time in New Port Richey. 
The pair became stranded in May and the mother was found wounded. They needed to be rehabilitated before they could be released into open waters. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]