Published: Mar 17, 2013 12:05 AM
Modified: Mar 17, 2013 12:05 AM
Robert James “Bob” Wheaton, Jr., 85, peacefully passed away on Thursday, March 7, 2013 with his family by his side. He was born on October 14, 1927 in Melrose, Massachusetts to Robert J. Wheaton, Sr. and Lucy Parlee Wheaton of Wakefield, MA.
Bob graduated from Wakefield High School in 1945. He was offered several merit scholarships, including to Dartmouth College and Duke University. However, World War intervened and he ended up in the Army instead.
Upon Bob’s discharge in 1947, he met Elizabeth Ann (“Betty”) Baker. Bob immediately lost all interest in going away to college, so he enrolled in Boston University in order to commute from home and date Betty. Bob graduated 2 ½ years later, in 1950, with a degree in Business Administration.
Bob and Betty eloped on Labor Day Weekend, 1949. They decided to keep the marriage a secret from their families until Bob was able to graduate from college and secure a decent-paying job. Therefore, they lived at their respective parents’ homes, and stole away whenever possible on the weekends – donning their wedding rings so that they could present themselves to the public as husband and wife. At the end of the weekend, they would remove their rings and revert to their undercover state.
This ruse lasted for several months until Betty inadvertently revealed the secret to her parents. Betty’s mother immediately insisted on a “proper” church wedding, so a follow-up ceremony was arranged for February 25, 1950, in Malden, Massachusetts. Then, the two-time newly-weds began a happy 63-year journey together as Mr. and Mrs. Wheaton.
Over the intervening decades, Bob advanced rapidly through the ranks of Boston Insurance Company and then Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. As an up-and-coming insurance professional, Bob went to night school for several years to attain his Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (“CPCU”) degree. Betty managed their happy home, which was blessed with the birth of two children. The family moved several times during Bob’s business career, including to Haddonfield and then Summit, NJ, and to New Canaan and then Avon, CT. Bob retired from Fireman’s Fund as a senior executive in 1988 so that he could spend his remaining years in happy retirement with Betty. They moved to Chapel Hill, NC in 2004.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents. Besides Betty, he is survived and missed by children Jim (Cynthia) Wheaton of Chapel Hill, NC and Beth (Peter) Wolff of Mebane, NC; sister Joan (Neal) Allen of Marietta, GA; grandchildren David and Marilyn Wheaton, and Laura Elizabeth and Holly Wolff; great-grandchildren Noah and Nash Swann; and nieces Tracy Allen and Elena Allen Cass.
The family would like to thank the staff at Carolina House of Chapel Hill for the love and professional care that they extended to Bob during his nine months of declining health.
A memorial service will be held at Christ United Methodist Church, 800 Market Street, Chapel Hill, NC, at 4:00 PM, Saturday, March 16. Burial will follow at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to The Montgomery County Friends of Animal Care and Control, at which Bob’s granddaughter Marilyn is a Board Member (MCFACC, 125 N. Main Street, Suite 500 #129, Blacksburg, VA 24060); or, to The Humane Society of the United States (The HSUS, Dept MEMIT9, 2100 L St. NW, Washington, DC 20037).
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