Family, friends and colleagues gathered Tuesday morning in Bel Air to celebrate the life of Dr. Leonard Wheeler—the Harford County school board president who died suddenly last week.
Rev. Jay Blake of Ames United Methodist Church said he asked the family to sum up Wheeler's passion and he recieved one resounding answer: he lived to teach.
"This was more than just a career or a vocation, for Dr. Wheeler, this was truly his heart," Blake said during Tuesday services for Wheeler.
Wheeler dedicated much of his life to education, retiring after 32 years from the public school system.
He was described by those who knew him as a wise and quiet soul, a "teacher's teacher" and someone who was not afraid to stand up for what he believed.
Dr. Robert Tomback, superintendent of Harford County Public Schools, served as a megaphone for school system staffers by sharing first the words of others and then his own at Tuesday's services.
"I will remember him most as a man who stood up for what he believed in even when it was not popular," Tomback said while sharing what others said of Wheeler.
Tomback went on to talk about Wheeler's unique oratory style which he described as, "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."
"I would say to myself 'OK, Leonard, where are we going with this,'" Tomback said.
He said just when Wheeler's comments seemed in an intricate tangle, Wheeler would make a stinging and often profound point.
Tomback tearfully spoke about the late Wheeler saying the man talked about his students with both joy and despair.
"But he was always hopeful, and he actualized that hope," Tomback said, adding, "His impact on children and adults is stunning."
Tomback explained Wheeler was a deep thinker and would often conclude a discussion with the phrase, "and that's why I sleep with the lights on."
"Dr. Wheeler now sleeps with the eternal light," Tomback said.
Wheeler chaired the Sept. 10 school board meeting and passed away the next day at the age of 73.
He was a member of Ames United Methodist Church in Bel Air. During his lifetime he served as a teacher, curriculum specialist, principal and Assistant Superintendent of Baltimore City Public Schools, according to his obituary.
He is survived by his wife, Dr. A. Barbara Wheeler sons Christopher Wheeler and Leonard Muhammad, daughters Evangeline Wheeler and Vell Wheeler as well as brothers, sisters, grandchildren and a great grandchild.
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