Ralph A. Wheeler Jr. (1954 - 2018)

  • "I served with him many years as a 626 union officer. One..."
    - Terry

Ralph Wheeler of Springfield passed away on August 26, 2018 at the age of 63. Ralph was born on December 10, 1954 in Las Vegas, NV to Ralph and Joan (Ewing) Wheeler. His family called him Butch. During his grade school years his family lived at Dale, Oregon, a ranger station mid-way between Pendleton and John Day. Without TV reception, Ralph and his siblings spent their time outdoors. As a child Ralph would spend hours alone, fishing near the old swimming hole at Desolation Creek. In 1969 Ralph's family moved to McKenzie Bridge where he graduated from McKenzie High School in 1973 as an Honor Senior and Student Council President. Ralph attended Lane Community College then graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.S. in Finance. At the U of O Ralph met his future wife Myrna Halter, and they recently celebrated 39 years of marriage.

Ralph was employed by Lane County Public Works. He was Treasurer for Local 626 and endeavored to make the workplace better for his co-workers by teaching first aid and Zenger-Miller principles of team work, suggesting and implementing improvements for safety, and training new employees. He was a skilled equipment operator and in 2004 became the Oregon Skills Demo Loader Champion.

Ralph served on the Board of Directors of Lane Community College. He volunteered for Kidsports and CASA of Lane County. He loved the outdoors: fishing, hunting, hiking, running, skiing, golfing, river rafting, gardening. He especially enjoyed fishing on the Olympic Peninsula and in Alaska, hunting in Idaho and Alaska, running the Hood to Coast Relay, vacationing in Hawaii, traveling to France and Switzerland to celebrate his and Myrna's 25th wedding anniversary, rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, and fishing anywhere with family and friends. Ralph fulfilled a long-time dream of hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail. He enjoyed both men's and women's sports at the U of O. He obtained his general contractor's license then designed and built his home on the McKenzie River in Springfield.

Ralph suffered from a genetic disorder, Polycystic Kidney Disease, which caused his kidneys to slowly lose their function. In 2010 he received a kidney from Myrna which continued to function well until his death. Partly due to the immune suppression drugs required after the transplant, he was unable to win the year-long fight against the cancer that claimed his life.

Ralph is survived by his wife Myrna, father Ralph Wheeler of Spirit Lake, Idaho, sister Kathy Wheeler (Jim Rankins) of Cool, California, brother Greg Wheeler of Eugene, and four nieces and their families. He was preceded in death by his mother Joan Wheeler and his beloved brother Bob Wheeler.

Family and friends, past and present, are invited to share photos and memories at the Wheeler home at 3840 Hayden Bridge Road in Springfield on September 29 from 2:00 to 4:00. In lieu of flowers or donations, take a friend fishing.

Arrangements are in the care of Sunset Hills Funeral Home in Eugene, OR.

Funeral Home
Sunset Hills Cemetery Funeral Home & Crematorium
4810 Willamette St
Eugene, OR 97405
(541) 342-6853
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Published in Eugene Register-Guard on Sept. 9, 2018