Jay Garth Wheeler
Seattle Fire Department Lieutenant Jay Garth Wheeler was born in Seattle on July 5, 1962 and died in Bremerton on March 4, 2020. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer, a hazard linked to many years of exposure to fire fighting.
Jay graduated from Inglemoor High School and earned a BA in history at University of Washington. As a first responder, his two most valuable qualities were courage and hope. Jay served in the Seattle Police Department South Precinct from 1989 and then later joined the Seattle Fire Department in 1997. During his career he served on Rescue 1, Ladders 5, 7, 9, 11, Engines 36, 38, and continuously supported the Fire Alarm Center. Last August when his illness took hold, Jay was a Lieutenant assigned to Engine Co. 29 in West Seattle. Jay was a volunteer diver for the Seattle Aquarium, motorcycle enthusiast, Jeopardy master, and connoisseur of fine whiskey.
It was hope that led him to his wife Valerie. He found great happiness with her. The rest is a love story with a combined family of his children Molly/Bryce, Patrick and Daniel, stepdaughter's Madisen and Makenzie/Jamee and grand-children Warner and Grey. He was a loving son to parents Garth and Roberta. A gregarious eldest brother to siblings/in-laws Scott/Karin, Laurie/David, Sherry/Arya, & Craig/Kamrin & a heroic uncle to many nieces & nephews.
When Jay was diagnosed, it was the power of hope that he took to all his treatments. He did not think he would be leading his family as a First Responder into heaven. His faith was quiet and sure, but no need to fear, the courageous Jay is watching over us.
Jay led an honorable life and is leaving a legacy with Police, Fire, and expanded family to be proud of. A memorial service with full FPD honors will be held at West Side Presbyterian Church, near Engine 29 in West Seattle on Thursday, March 26 at 1:00 pm.
Published in The Seattle Times on Mar. 8, 2020.