Dwight H. Wheless(1940 - 2017)

Dwight H. Wheless


Major General Dwight Hernard Wheless, Civil Air Patrol. On June 30, 2017, Dwight, 76, passed peacefully in his sleep surrounded by his family after aggressively and honorably fighting brain cancer for the last four months. He was a resident of Columbia, North Carolina.

He is survived by his son W. Jay Wheless and daughter-in-law, Lisa Wheless (Manteo, NC), daughter Shelle Wheless Altieri and son-in-law Army Colonel Jayson Altieri (Alexandria, VA), brother Larry Wheless, sister Andrea Wheless, step-daughters Vickie Thompson and Valerie Hocutt, grandchildren Stephen Wheless, Elizabeth Wheless, Isabella Altieri, and Jayson Altieri, Jr., step-grandchildren Courtney Bullard, Bryce Thompson, Winston Koone, and Olivia Koone, and many extended family members and friends. He is preceded in death by his parents Walter Hernon Wheless and Johnsie Lee Moffitt Wheless.

Born November 16, 1940, in High Point, NC, he put himself through and graduated from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (A.B., 1963) and its School of Law (J.D., 1967). He was a member of Phi Alpha Delta, a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece and was president of the Student Bar Association.

Admitted to the Bar in 1967, Dwight practiced law in Manteo and Columbia, NC for 49 years — 28 of which were with his son and law partner, Jay. Dwight's law practice focused on Real Estate Law, Corporate Law, Municipal Law, and Wills and Estate Administration. Ancillary to his private law practice, Dwight served as the Dare County Attorney from 1972 to 1993 helping guide the County through one of its busiest growth periods and overseeing the transition to a full-time county attorney. Most recently, he was attorney for The Dare County Tourism Board and The Albemarle Commission, both Public Authorities, and served proudly as Town Attorney for Creswell, NC and his adopted hometown of Columbia, NC.

He was named Outstanding County Attorney by North Carolina County Association of Commissioners, 1977-1978 and 1990-1991. He was a member of the North Carolina State Bar, North Carolina Bar Association; First Judicial District Bar (president, 1976-1977), and, most recently, the Second Judicial District Bar. While Dare County Attorney, he was a member of the North Carolina Association of County Attorneys (second vice-president, 1988-1989, first vice-president, 1989-1990).

He was active in many state and community organizations. He was a founder and president of the North Carolina Airports Association while serving as chairman of the Dare County Airport Authority, president of the Albemarle Development Authority, Inc., chairman of the Dare County Morehead Awards Nomination Committee and the District Bar Review Committee, president of the North Carolina County Attorneys Association, and founder and chair of Eastern Savings and Loan Association.

Additionally, he served as a member of the North Carolina Department of Transportation Program Planning Committee, the Board of Directors of the First Flight Society (later serving as Treasurer and Legal Counsel), two-term president of the Columbia Rotary Club, a Free and Accepted Mason, vestryman of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, member of the General Church Council of Columbia Christian Church and was president and treasurer of Friends of the Tyrrell County Public Library (being instrumental in establishing the Dolly Parton Imagination Library for the community).

Dwight was the past national commander and vice-commander (rank of Major General) and past National Middle-East Region legal officer, of the 57,000 member Civil Air Patrol (CAP), USAF Auxiliary. He joined CAP in 1981 when the Coastal Senior Squadron reactivated in Manteo, NC. He was appointed North Carolina Wing commander in 1989. During his five-year tenure as commander he was instrumental in establishing a relationship with the North Carolina Legislature that resulted in state funding for construction of a Wing Headquarters building and improved worker's compensation protections to members serving on State missions. Dwight then served as national legal officer where he was instrumental in the first National Headquarters reorganization, the Air Force Broad Area Review and the Memorandum of Understanding negotiations with the Air Force. He went on to serve a three-year term as national vice-commander and, later, national commander. In addition, he also held positions as chairman of the National Appeal Board, chairman of the Member Action Review Board and member of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee that provided the first in-depth revision of Civil Air Patrol's governing authority. Dwight also served as a member and vice-chairman of CAP's Board of Governors and as chief of the Legal Officers' Corps.

He was a CAP pilot and was qualified as both a Search and Rescue and Counterdrug Observer. He completed all five levels of the CAP Professional Development program earning the prestigious Gill Rob Wilson Award in 1984. For his service in Civil Air Patrol, Dwight was awarded numerous Distinguished Service medals, Exceptional Service awards, Meritorious Service awards and Commanders Commendations.

For his extraordinary public service, Dwight was awarded North Carolina's high honor, Order of the Long Leaf Pine. He received similar awards from other states.

In his youth, Dwight maintained an active paper route before school, was a member of the debate team and was president of the student body at Central High School in High Point, NC. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America – of which he remained immensely proud throughout his life. Through high school, Dwight performed with his musical group "The Deacons" at school sock-hops; the group was particularly adept at "doo-wop" songs. As a solo performer (piano and vocals), Dwight cut a single called, "My Dream World."

Dwight loved astronomy, flying, fishing, hunting, playing a variety of musical instruments, singing, walking his dogs, Belle and Zoe, through the peaceful streets of Columbia and sitting with family and friends on the porches of the family's two camphouses admiring the ever-changing waters and shoals around Oregon Inlet or the hills and hardwoods surrounding "Bluegill Pond", in Halifax County, NC. He had no greater loves than God, his family and the United States of America. He proved this through extraordinary and dedicated service to each.

There are many stories of how Dwight helped those in need without seeking recognition for himself. As a dear friend said, "Dwight so often worked in the background to get things done, making the right contacts or planning the best strategy, without being the out-front person." We will miss him deeply, mourn his passing, and are thankful for his life and legacy. To sum it up, Dwight loved and lived according to his favorite song, "My Way."

Visitation will be held at Bryan Funeral Home (Columbia, NC) on Wednesday, July 5, 2017, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Funeral Services will be held at Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church (Manteo, NC) on Thursday, July 6, 2017, at 3:00 pm. A short graveside service will be held at the Manteo Cemetery (walking distance from the church). A reception will be held thereafter at Jay and Lisa's home in Manteo.

In lieu of flowers, Dwight asked that contributions be made to Civil Air Patrol – Cadet Travel Fund, 105 S. Hansell Street, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama 36112.

Funeral Home

Bryan Funeral Service
162 L A Keiser Dr Columbia, NC 27925
(252) 796-5159

Published in The News & Observer on July 3, 2017