Kermit Loraine "Kert" Wheeler, 74, has gone home to join his heavenly father Thursday, March 17, 2016.
Kermit was born in Gravel Point, Illinois, on Nov. 8, 1941, to Lloyd L. and Mary Ruth (Banning) Wheeler. Kermit moved to Missoula in 1959 with his parents and three siblings; that summer year he did ranch work in the Clinton valley for Henry and Lydia Weideman and met his future wife, Nancy Weideman. In 1960 Kermit graduated from Sentinel High School in Missoula.
After graduation Kert joined the Army Reserve, was assigned to boot camp at Fort Ord, California, and spent six years in the Army Reserve program. After boot camp he went to work at the Anaconda Lumber Company in Bonner and remain in standby Army Reserve until the age of 39. Kermit and Nancy were married at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Missoula on May 26, 1962. The following year they welcomed their first daughter, Laurrie Anne. Their second daughter, Lisa, was born in March 1965.
Kermit started working in the mountains setting tongs in 1965. Four years later, he and Nancy had their son, Kurtis "Kurt." It was at that time Kermit bought his first log truck, gradually working into position of owner-operator of his own logging company and hiring his own crew. His work took him to the four corners of the state, and beyond. During his years of logging, he had many close calls and yet was able to continue doing what he loved. He always felt closest to God when he was on a mountain.
Kermit loved children and it was his grandchildren in later years he lived for. He was the high chair many of them learned to eat from, spent hours pushing them on the swing set and chasing after them as they explored their world. When his body started wearing out he used a chair so he could continue the ritual of pushing and attending.
Kermit was preceded in death by his parents, sister Karen, a niece and nephew. Kermit is survived by his wife, Nancy; his two daughters; son; 13 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. He is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives.
Memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 23, at the Immanuel Lutheran Church, 830 South Ave. W. All are welcome to come join us in celebrating Kert's life and memory, and welcome to share stories of him at the reception. No interment ceremony is planned at this time.
Kermit accepted Jesus as Savior and redeemer. He and Nancy became members of Immanuel Lutheran Church, and he was proud to be welcomed into this wonderful church family. Even when ill, he managed to attend services. He would never miss a soup supper or the Scandinavian dinners and the fellowship we all shared. He wished to thank all who shared his fellowship in Christ.
The family wishes a special thank you to Pastor Greg, Pastor Molly, and all the friends and family who helped us through these hard days and week.
For those unable to attend the service, you can watch live and on demand at imluchurch.org under the "live stream" tab. A celebration of life is planned for May 26, which would have been Kermit and Nancy's 54th wedding anniversary.
Condolences and memories may be left for the family at missoulafuneralhomes.com.