Berlin – Willard H. “Billy” Wheeler, 94, died quietly at his lifelong home, Indian Head Farm, on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. He was born Dec. 10, 1923, son of Sidney W. Wheeler and Florence E. Hastings.
He is survived by his son, Richard Wheeler; his son, Timothy Wheeler and daughter-in-law Janet Woodward; and his grandsons, James Wheeler and Nathaniel Wheeler, all of whom lived with Willard on the farm. He was predeceased by his wife of 66 years, Joanne (Kavanaugh), who died in 2013.
He attended Dartmouth College for one year before leaving to join the Army. Upon return, he ran a general store and coffee shop in the village of South Berlin and served as Postmaster there from 1946 until 1978. He attended night school at Clark University for 15 years, becoming the first in his family to graduate from college when he completed his studies in 1971.
Willard served as Berlin Town Clerk from 1965 until 1985. During this time he also acted as Justice of the Peace, performing over 1000 weddings, most in the front parlor of the family home. He cared greatly for Berlin and participated in Berlin Town government in many capacities over the years, serving on the Finance Committee, the School Committee and the Board of Selectmen.
For many years he supported the Berlin Boy Scouts, serving as Cub Master, Troop Master and local and regional committeeman and was a proud recipient of the Silver Beaver Award for service. He led local Scouts to three National Jamborees in Washington, DC, Valley Forge and Coeur d’ALene, Idaho; a World Jamboree in Japan and the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.
He and his wife, Joanne, enjoyed the opportunity to travel after he retired from the Post Office. They hiked in Peru, New Zealand, Scotland, China, Germany and camped in the Virgin Islands alongside many friends they made in their retirement years.
Most of all, he loved to work on the farm and particularly enjoyed working alongside so many wonderful young men and women from the area during their high school and college years. Whether bunching asparagus, making hay or overseeing the blueberry harvest, he was always enthusiastic about working, happy to recite Robert Service to the staff while picking blueberries, or telling stories about wandering the fields with his grandfather as a young boy. Many will miss his guidance and friendship.
Donations in Willard’s memory may be made to the Berlin Boy Scouts or to an organization of your choice.
A celebration of Willard’s life will take place at Indian Head Farm in the late spring.
Hays Funeral Home, 56 Main St., Northborough, is honored to assist the Wheeler family with arrangements. To leave a condolence or story, please visit Willard’s Book of Memories at www.HaysFuneralHome.com.