Earl L. Wheat, 87, passed away at Sunset Vista assisted living home in Silver City on Wednesday, June 20, 2012. A funeral service will be held at Bright Funeral Home Chapel on Monday, June 25, at 10 a.m. with Pastor Steve Griffith officiating. Interment will follow at Memory Lane Cemetery. He was born Dec. 15, 1924, to Edgar and Ella Wheat. He and his parents moved to the Grant County area between 1939 and 1940. He married the love of his life, Virginia Mae Dick, about 1943 and they were together until her death in 1998. He was employed by Kennecott Copper Corp. as a pipe fitter's helper from June 1942 to 1944, when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy to serve his country in World War II. His service commendations consisted of one star for the Asiatic-Pacific area; Philippine Liberation, one star; and he was awarded a Victory Medal, World War II. He achieved the rank of seaman first class. He separated from the Navy on Feb. 7, 1944, with an honorable discharge. He later went back to work for Kennecott as a pipe fitter's helper, then became a first-class welder. Later, he graduated from Western New Mexico University with a degree in industrial technology. He was promoted to maintenance supervisor at the smelter and mill area of Kennecott Copper Corp., from which he retired in 1985. Mr. Wheat was an avid hunter and was involved in competitive shooting. He especially loved the spring turkey hunt and rarely missed harvesting his limit. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister, wife and grandson. He leaves behind two sons, Michael Wheat of Silver City and Steven Wheat of Deming; three grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. Bright Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements, "Traditional Services and Care for Your Family and Friends," 210 W. College Ave. Phone 388-1911. To send condolences log in to www.brightfuneral.net.
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Bright Funeral Home
210 West College Avenue
Silver City, NM 88061
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News from June 23 to June 24, 2012