Joe Davis Wheeler, Jr. passed away peacefully at home on Sunday, October 8, 2023 surrounded by his family after a lengthy illness. Joe was born August 18, 1948 in Oklahoma City to Joe Davis Wheeler, Sr. and Orma Lue (Carlton) Wheeler. Joe was the oldest of three children, the big brother to his 2 younger sisters. Joe graduated in 1966 from Putnam City High School “the Original” where he excelled in football and track. Joe attended the University of Oklahoma where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta. As a Phi Delt he was Big Brother to Everett Southerland, who became his lifelong friend to this day. Joe was in the Oklahoma Air National Guard. Upon completion of that service, he finished his undergrad at Oklahoma City University. He followed a family legacy of practicing law obtaining his law degree from Oklahoma City University in 1975. His grandfather, Floyd Wheeler, was a member of the first graduating class of OU Law School. His name is engraved on the cornerstone of the “Law Barn.” Joe practiced law with his father throughout his dad’s entire career. He learned what it meant to practice with integrity, honesty and kindness - characteristics his fellow lawyers and clients came to know well. He lived by the adage instilled in him by his father, “If you do a good job for your client they may tell 2 people, if you do a bad job, they will tell 10.” Joe concluded every phone conversation with fellow lawyers and clients with “…Good to talk to you, my friend.” And they were his friends. He was a vigorous advocate for his clients in and out of the courtroom.
Joe met his future bride Arlene Smith in 1974. They dated for six years and finally Joe “caved in” and they were married July 20, 1980. After eight years of marriage, the long and arduous journey to parenthood was rewarded with the birth of their son, Lane Carlton Wheeler. Lane came home on Joe’s 40th Birthday, best birthday gift ever. He filled our hearts with joy. It was Arlene’s greatest privilege to be able to be a “stay-at-home mom.” They had so many happy years of never missing a baseball, soccer, basketball, football game and even golf match, enjoying every minute and making lifelong friends along the way.
In 2000 on their 20th Anniversary, Joe, Arlene and Lane found their piece of paradise at Turks and Caicos, subsequently purchasing a condo in 2003. This was a cherished part of Joe’s life. They made dozens of friends with local residents and fellow owners over 2 decades. Fellow owners met several times a year so they could have “Owners Meetings.” The “meetings” consisted of standing in the ocean for hours with beer in hand. Through Joe’s lengthy illness his goal of getting healthy and returning to his piece of paradise sustained him.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents, Joe and Lue Wheeler, and by his beloved middle sister Cindy Wheeler Renk and his mother and father-in-law, Miriam and Vincent Smith. Left to keep his memory alive is his loving and devoted wife of 43 years, Arlene. His son, Lane and wife, Lauren of OKC. His “baby” sister, Shelly Wheeler Ashley, DVM and husband Stephen and son Jackson. Brother-in-Law, Kevin Renk, Edmond and Cindy’s children, Kyle Renk, Kara Falk, husband Garrett and son Rowan, all of Edmond, OK. Sister-in law, Cheryl Nixon, St. Petersburg, FL and her children, Ryah and Xan Nixon. Sister-in law Dianne Brewer, OKC and her children, Valore and Chase. Brother-in law, Vincent Smith and wife Ita, San Diego, CA and their sons, Dennis and Evan.
Joe touched innumerable lives during his 75 years of living and more than 46 years of practicing law. Even though our hearts are broken, he is no longer suffering and finally at peace. The family will have a private burial ceremony at Resurrection Cemetery on Monday, October 16, 2023 with Interment to follow. At a later date, a memorial celebration will be held to remember and share all our good memories of Joe with family, friends, fellow attorneys and clients.