James (Jim) Edward Wheeler passed away peacefully June 25, 2021 at the age of 69 surrounded by family at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, MN. He fought courageously for nine years battling leukemia and other health issues.
Jim was born April 5, 1952 in Breckenridge, MN to James Eugene and Helen (Anderson) Wheeler. Jim has a sister Janelle and a brother Jeffrey. At the age of 3 years old the family moved to a farm at Sebeka, MN. Jim loved growing up on the farm and was a very hard worker. He was shoveling sidewalks and mowing lawns for people around town at a very young age. He enjoyed playing with friends, riding horse, snowmobiling and deer hunting. By the age of 14, Jim started working at the local gas station. He saved his money and was so proud of his first car (a green 51 Chevy) that he bought himself. Within a short time, he upgraded to a 63 Chevy Impala. Jim graduated with Sebeka’s Class of 1970. After graduation he moved to Minneapolis and began working at the Ford Motor Company St Paul Assembly Plant. He retired from there after 37 years.
In 1973 Jim married his high school sweetheart, Luann Eckert. They have been married for 48 years and have two daughters, Nicole and Kristy.
Jim enjoyed playing and coaching sports. He was on a bowling league, softball team, and basketball team at work. For 19 years Jim coached his daughters’ softball teams, in ASA and USSSA, winning five State Championships along the way.
Jim’s hobbies included restoring cars, trucks, Allis Chalmer and John Deere tractors along with attending auctions and collecting many antiques, Coke memorabilia, and signs. He devoted 29 years to MSRA’s yearly Back to the 50s Car Show working with the Outside Vendors. The first vehicle Jim restored was a 55 Chevy handyman station wagon. Then he spent seven months working endless hours on a 1952 Chevrolet pick-up alongside his friend Wane. The next project was a 39 Plymouth. Cars and car shows were a family activity at our house.
Jim’s family cannot thank enough the Doctors, Nurses, Research Teams, and the entire Care Team Staff at the University of Minnesota for their great care and compassion.
Jim was proceeded in death by his Mother Helen, his father-in-law, his mother-in-Law, and his grandparents. Jim is survived by his wife Luann; daughters: Nicole and Kristy; son-in-law Scott; and his very much-loved grandchildren: Madilyn and Landen. Also surviving Jim is his father James; sister Janelle; brother Jeffrey; seven Godchildren: Aaron, Austin, Jeff, Josh, Tyler, Krystal, and Holly, and numerous other relatives and friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations would be appreciated to the Blood and Marrow Transplant Department at the University of Minnesota. https://makingagift.umn.edu/give/yourgift.html
A visitation will be held Saturday, July 17, from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m., immediately followed by A Celebration of Life Service at the Funeral Home in Andover, MN. A private burial will be held at a later date.
Arrangements are being handled by Thurston-DeShaw Funeral Home, 13817 Jay Street NW, Andover, MN 55304. Online condolences may be left at www.thurston-deshaw.com