1931 - 2021
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WHEELER, Robert J. Lifetime Focus on Family, Education and Sports Bob Wheeler passed away on April 13 at his home in Hamilton, MA with his family by his side. He was born on January 7, 1931 in Wakefield, MA, the youngest of four sons of Margaret J. (Dinan) Wheeler and Frederick J. Wheeler. Predeceased by his wife of 63 years, Diane (Purtell) Wheeler, and by brothers Fred, Jr., Paul and Bill, Bob is survived by five children (Deborah, Leslie, Robert, Jr., Cynthia and David), fourteen grandchildren (Eloise, Sam, Peter, Hazel, Ezekiel, Ben, Emily, Alexandra, Grayson, Nina, Porter, Jack, Charlie and Ali) and two great-grandchildren (Kingston and Keanu). Growing up in Wakefield next door to Lake Quannapowitt and Veteran's Field, Bob developed early interests in hockey and baseball. He attended Malden Catholic High School, where he was a standout in both sports. Malden Catholic won both the Massachusetts State Hockey Championship and New England Championship in 1948, capping a season in which Bob scored 34 goals in 17 games. Later that year he was named to the Catholic League All Star Baseball team and played at Fenway Park against the Greater Boston All Stars. At Brown University, where he graduated in 1952 as an economics major, Bob played in 61 varsity hockey games over three seasons (freshmen were not eligible for varsity play) in which Brown won two Pentagonal League championships (the Pentagonal League was the precursor to the Ivy League). Over that period, he set six school scoring records, including most goals in a game (8), in a season (36), and in a career (86). Despite playing in only three varsity seasons, Bob's career records still stand at Brown, seven decades later. From 1950 to 1952, he was named to the All-New England and All-Ivy hockey teams three times, was the Pentagonal League MVP in 1952 and was the only player in Brown history to be named a First Team All-American when that honor consisted of players from East and West colleges combined, instead of two separate regional teams. Bob was also a standout third baseman for the Bruins, helping his team to a first-place tie in the 1952 Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League. In both sports, and in everything he did, Bob pursued excellence and was known to be a fiery competitor. Brown established an Athletic Hall of Fame in 1971 and Bob was a first-year inductee. He was named to the Malden Catholic HOF in the late 50's, Massachusetts State HOF in 2007, and was nominated twice to the United States HOF. Bob would recall challenges in getting hockey equipment and practice time in those days. He skated in his older brother's over-sized skates until the end of his sophomore year at Brown. Princeton and Dartmouth had their own indoor ice facilities while Yale and Harvard practiced five days weekly at New Haven and Boston Arenas. Brown had no rink and depended on the generosity of alumnus Lou Pieri, the owner of the Rhode Island Auditorium, who donated ice time to the team on Sundays, 12-2pm and Mondays, 6-8am. Nonetheless, Brown was dominant in League play and reached the finals of the NCAA Hockey Championships in Colorado Springs in 1951. He also recalled that in the 1949-1950 season, he was the first college player to use the "slap shot," a technique he developed after watching it used by Roger Bedard of the Providence Reds. It was later used in the NHL for the first time by Bernie Geoffrion of the Montreal Canadians in 1955. Bob served in the U.S. Army in Korea from 1952-55 and joined IBM as a sales manager upon his return. After a first date under Wakefield Independence Day fireworks in the summer 1955, Bob and Diane married a year later. Over the next thirteen years they moved together across the Eastern Seaboard while Bob was with IBM, and then settled the family in Hamilton when he started a new career in the investment business, initially for White Weld and then later at Merrill Lynch. Bob and Diane raised their children and stayed in Hamilton for the rest of their lives, also raising many lovable labs, collies, and spaniels. They instilled deep values of love, education and hard work in all of their family members. A private Service will be held at their home. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Northeast Animal Shelter, 347 Highland Ave., Salem, MA would be greatly appreciated. Arrangements by Campbell Funeral Home, 525 Cabot St., BEVERLY, MA. For online condolences, please visit

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Published in Boston Globe from Apr. 16 to Apr. 18, 2021.
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2 entries
April 29, 2021
I did a lot of property maintenance at Bob's house for close to 20 years. Being a huge hockey fan Bob would invite me in from time to time to check out his sports museum shoot a game of pool and just talk hockey. I had my first son during this difficult year and Bob had a lot of nice encouraging things to say about being a father and a hard worker. You will be missed Mr Wheeler
Bill Poel
April 19, 2021
Played with Bob at Malden Catholic and Brown and the article in the Globe says it all. I felt honored to be a teammate of Bob's. My sincere condolences to his family
Al Gubbins
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