Alma Jean (Enloe) Wheeler of Tolland went home to her Heavenly Father on Monday, March 10, 2014, at the age of 89.
She was deeply loved and will be sorely missed by her devoted husband of 69 years, Murray, their children, and many other family and friends.
She was the daughter of Denver J. and Dona Enloe and was born in 1924 at home on their farm in Enon, Mo. She was the second of five children and early learned the value of hard, honest work. Raised during the Depression, Jean enjoyed gardening and the canning of the foods she raised and kept her family supplied with jellies, jams, and her special green tomato relish as long as her health allowed. After graduating from Russellville (Missouri) High School in 1941, Jean completed secretarial school in Sedalia, Mo., and secured employment in Kansas City. In 1943 she met the love of her life, Murray O. Wheeler, in the choir of the Calvary Baptist Church. The U.S. Army
had sent him to Kansas City from his native Maine to attend the Missouri Aviation Institute. They were married in that church on Aug. 12, 1944, just before Murray was sent overseas in support of the B-29s based on Tinian. While he was gone their first son, Murray Kent, was born. Once the war was over, the young family moved to Connecticut so Murray could return to work at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft. Their daughter, Patricia Ann, and a second son, Howard J., were born here before Murray was sent first to Sydney, N.Y., then, in 1953, to Hamilton, Ohio, where their third son, Paul D., was born. After a short stint in Joplin, Mo., the family was sent back to Connecticut in 1965. They also spent three years in Norway on assignment for Pratt & Whitney Aviation. While there, Jean studied Norwegian and became accomplished at rosemaling, a traditional Norwegian art form. Murray and Jean were always active in the local Baptist church and were founding members in new churches started in Ohio, East Hartford (now in Manchester), and Tolland. Jean often played the piano for church services while Murray led the singing. She had learned to play by ear but later in life took lessons so she could read music. Jean was a loving, stay-at-home mom, sewing, knitting, quilting, cooking, and gardening until Paul was in school but she and Murray also loved to travel. By 1957 they had a goal to visit every state and national park in the U.S. They bought a travel trailer - Jean did not sleep on the ground. Jean would map out the itinerary, make reservations at the parks, pack the bags and lots of food. Murray would hook up the trailer to the station wagon, load up and the family was off with Jean navigating. Forty-eight states and the continental parks had all been visited by 1965 using nothing but two-week vacations. Alaska, Hawaii, and most of Europe were added later. Jean went to work at the Savings Bank of Tolland in 1966 and worked there until she retired. She had decided that she wanted to know more about family history so began her genealogical research into both her and Murray's families, resulting in six published books about the various family branches and membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Jean is predeceased by her parents and three siblings. She is survived by her loving husband; her four children plus spouses; nine grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren, one great-great grandchild; her brother, Roger Enloe of Eldon, Mo.; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins, including one special niece, Carole Ratcliff of California, Mo.
The family would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Fox Hill Center in Rockville for their wonderful, loving care of Jean in her final days.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, March 15, 2014, at 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Church, 240 Hillstown Road, Manchester. Burial will be in the Hillstown Veterans Cemetery.
Calling hours will be held Friday, March 14, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Holmes Funeral Home, 400 Main St., Manchester.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Gideons International, Northeast Camp, 86 Crystal Pond Road, Eastford, CT 06242.
To sign the online register book go towww.holmes-watkinsfuneralhomes.com