Alan Eugene Wheatley, 100, of Rich Hill, Mo., passed away on January 5, 2023, at his home.
Alan Eugene Wheatley was born on November 29, 1922, at home in Rich Hill, Mo., to Fred and Nell Wheatley, the fourth of nine children. Life was never dull on the family farm, and with siblings, friends, and cousins always around, adventure abounded. At the age of two, Alan tumbled from the loft of the family barn and landed head first in a bucket of eggs, breaking his fall and saving his life.
As a teenager, Alan and a friend rode their bikes all the way to Osceola, at least sixty miles roundtrip on the gravel road that would later become B highway, just to say they had. His mother knew he returned home when she heard him drawing water from the well late that night.
Alan attended the Mission Branch one room schoolhouse through the eighth grade. He then attended Rich Hill High School, riding the bus to town each day. He graduated from Rich Hill High School in 1940.
After high school graduation Alan moved to Florida where he worked at a greyhound racetrack, staying with his Ayer grandparents who lived in the area. In 1942, he took his winnings from the track and bought a car, driving to Massachusetts to meet with family. Alan enlisted in the Army that fall, the day before he turned 20. He completed basic training in California and served across Europe during the war. Following D-Day, his brigade participated in the liberation of Paris, France.
At the end of the war, Alan returned to the United States with the goal of attending college. He enrolled at the University of Missouri, graduating in 1950 with a degree in Agricultural Business. At the university, he was an early member of the Independent Aggies, serving as the club’s secretary. His involvement at the university would earn him the honor of being named a member of the Mystical Seven, a secret society recognizing seven outstanding seniors, based on their good deeds and selfless leadership and service to the campus and community.
Following graduation he began teaching agriculture in Weaubleau, Mo. During this time he frequented a drugstore in Humansville for lunch, and the owner would introduce him to a young woman, Delores Zerkel. Alan and Delores were married on April 15, 1951. The young couple lived in Collins, Mo., and started a family, welcoming a son, Mark. In a move to support his parents and brothers, Alan and his family relocated to Rich Hill in the area of Happy Hill, in 1954. Two more children would follow, Sandra, and Gregory.
Alan ran a dairy with his brothers until August of 1973. With the dairy dispersed, the brothers moved into beef production. Alan continued in agriculture, and his sons and son-in-law followed. He kept detailed records, journaling the events of the family and farm each day. He would cook for the boys, bringing breakfast to the chicken house for many years. When he could no longer do the cooking, Greg started his mornings with Alan, cooking breakfast for the both of them. Sandra always made sure he was fed supper every night. Alan would be an integral part of the family farm to his final day.
An avid card player, Alan spent nearly every day in his later life at the pitch parlor in Rich Hill, playing pitch alongside his brothers and friends. Alan rarely said no to helping in his community, and spent decades serving with various organizations. He spent 70 years as a member of the Masonic Lodge. Alan also served on the board of directors with Security Bank for many years.
Alan cherished his time with family. The Wheatley siblings shared their lives together, never missing an opportunity to gather and celebrate. Alan was raised in the Mound Zion Methodist Church, and later joined the Rich Hill Methodist Church. He loved the fourth of July, often bringing the family’s Model T to town for the parade. He was a man of decorum, a true gentleman with rarely a harsh word for anyone.
Alan was preceded in death by his parents Fred and Nell Wheatley, his wife, Delores Wheatley, son Mark Wheatley, brothers, Kenneth Wheatley and wife Elnora, Jim Wheatley and wife June, Forrest Wheatley, Wayne Wheatley and wife Dorris, Warren Wheatley, brother-in-law Floyd Buhr, and sister Marian Eikenbary and husband Pete.
He is survived by his sisters, Janice Bolser and husband Ronald, and Joanne Buhr, and sister-in-law Phyllis Wheatley, friend Mitzi Knight, two children, Sandra Cameron and husband Mike, and Greg Wheatley and wife Jennifer, daughter in law, Cindy Wheatley, nine grandchildren; Lindsey (Cameron) Benbrook and husband Scott, Vince Cameron and friend Ashley Gregory, Kristin (Wheatley) Huenefeldt and husband Kevin, Miranda (Wheatley) Kassner and husband Nathan, Marisa (Wheatley) McEwan, Morgan (Wheatley) Preston and husband Nolan, Madison (Wheatley) Mann and husband Wyatt, Riley Cameron and wife Sierra, and Mackenzie Wheatley, and fourteen great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held Monday, January 9, at 11 a.m. at Heuser Funeral Home in Rich Hill, with burial to follow at Green Lawn Cemetery.
The family suggests contributions to the Mark Wheatley Scholarship Fund, c/o Heuser Funeral Home.