Dr. Earl Atwell Wheaton, Jr.
Dr. Earl Atwell Wheaton, Jr, died peacefully on March 23, 2021 at the age of 92. Lucid and strong throughout his short struggle with cancer, Dr. Wheaton was able to spend his last days at his beloved Valley Hospital, where he was surrounded by his loving family, including his wife Jeanne Jaicks Wheaton, his children and step children, and the care of many of his former co-workers and friends. Dr. Wheaton was a member of the leadership team at Valley for more than a decade, serving in various capacities including president of the medical staff and Chief Medical Officer. He was a member of the Valley Hospital Board and a recipient of the Distinguished Physician Service Award. He had a private practice in Ridgewood for 30 years, where he was an internist-rheumatologist.
Dr. Wheaton was born in Utica, New York, on September 18, 1928. He was the eldest child of Earl Atwell, Sr. and Gertrude Liddy Wheaton. The family, which included sisters Cynthia Wheaton Broadus and Joan Wheaton Jack, moved to Ridgewood when Earl was in fifth grade. Earl attended Ridgewood schools and graduated from RHS in 1946. He was class president, a star basketball and football player, and top of his class, winning the prestigious Somerville Thayer Award, given to the RHS student who demonstrated highest achievement in academics, athletics and leadership. Earl attended Princeton University and Columbia Medical School, where he was chief resident. He served in the U.S. Army as a Captain from 1955 - 57.
Dr. Wheaton had five children by his first wife, Barbara Dippel Wheaton: Christopher Wheaton and his wife Eileen of Portland, Oregon; Caroline Wheaton of Hartford, Connecticut; Pamela Wheaton Shorr and husband Frank of Swampscott, Massachusetts; Timothy Wheaton and wife Sarah Flatley of Lexington, Massachusetts; and Sarah Wheaton and husband Julian Frigo of Belmont, Massachusetts. He was a treasured grandfather to Matt, Julia, Alex, Mei, David, Bailey, Emmy, Jamie, Jake, Nick and Charlie, and great-grandfather to Luciana, Francesca and Emilio. "Doc" was also a beloved stepfather to the Jaicks boys and their families: Andrew and Mary, Bryan and Dawn, Perry and Janice, and Cameron and Ellen.
Dr. Wheaton was a gentle and gracious leader with a brilliant mind and a ready laugh, whose approachable personality was a great aid and support to his coworkers and peers. He was the type of person who did good without letting anyone know, volunteering for the Valley Hospice and donating his time and energy to Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative, which provides free healthcare to the working uninsured in Bergen County. He was a role model to many, including his children, an "Atticus Finch" whose actions often spoke much louder than his words. He will be sorely missed by his family, and gratefully remembered for all the ways he touched our hearts and led us to becoming better people. Please send donations to BVMI (https://www.bvmi.org/
) in honor of his memory. A memorial service will be held in September.
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Published by The Ridgewood News from Mar. 25 to Apr. 2, 2021.