Juanita Anderson WheelerJanuary 26, 1919 ~ June 2, 2017 (age 98)
Juanita Anderson Wheeler, age 98, a former long-time resident of Bakersfield, peacefully passed away in Carmichael, CA on June 2, 2017, following a brief hospitalization, surrounded at her bedside by beloved children and grandchildren.
She was born in Stonewall, Oklahoma on January 26, 1919, the second daughter of Jim and Estella Fletcher Anderson. She was the middle of 2 sisters, Hazel and Bette, who all grew up on a farm in Seminole, OK. Juanita was a self-professed “Tomboy”; she loved to run, climb trees and fences, and to ride in her wagon down the country roads. In school, she was an excellent student, loved mathematics, and penmanship was both meticulous and prize-winning.
Juanita graduated high school in 1937, and went to work taking tickets at the local movie theater. One day her father told her about an open position for a stenographer for a local attorney, and at his urging she applied for the job. She got it, and was paid $1 per day!
She later went to work in the office of Seminole Motors, and it wasn’t long before she caught the eye of the handsome, (albeit 9 years older), manager of the B.F. Goodrich Tire franchise at the same store. He was a dapper as well as tenacious salesman and aspiring businessman; soon a romance bloomed. She and Donald Eugene Wheeler were married in Seminole on July 15, 1939. During the years of World War 2 they moved to California, eventually settling in Bakersfield where, until they retired in 1972, Don and Juanita successfully operated Wheeler’s Television, all the while raising their 3 children.
Wheeler’s Television was literally built from the ground up. In 1952 an undeveloped plot of ground on Bernard street was purchased and foundation for a 25 foot storefront was poured. Later, this size was tripled to 75 feet. These were the early years of TV, when viewing was often in front of the large window of the store, where Don turned on the sets and turned up the volume, introducing the new medium. TV sales and service, as well as the sale of vinyl records, were the success of the business over the next 2 decades.
Juanita, as well as the older children worked at the store. It was there she demonstrated, (and taught!), the principles of hard work, organization, industry and honesty for which she was known, qualities that she exemplified and continued to exhibit throughout her life. Her children and grandchildren have expressed their appreciation of these traits which were shown to them as they grew up.
Even while working at the store, Juanita was known for her homemaking skills. At her 90th birthday celebration, grandchildren were asked to recollect some of the brightest memories of their grandmother. Several commented on the warmth and feeling of family love expressed by the surroundings of the family home, how inviting they found it, and how they looked forward to visiting and staying there.
Juanita was very active in civic and charitable affairs, serving with the Bakersfield Guild House, the Delta Theta Tau Philanthropic sorority, and as a member of Bakersfield’s Community Concerts. During her children’s elementary school years, she was an active participant on many PTA Boards.
She was a faithful member of the Church of Christ, was constantly active in and supportive of local church activities, and taught and lived the principles learned through that association. For many years she was an active member Associated Women for Pepperdine.
Don passed away in 1989 and in 1997 she married Ray Morton, a long-time family friend. Ray passed away in 2010, and in 2014 Juanita moved to the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights, to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her 2 spouses and her two sisters: Hazel Fisher of Ojai CA and Bette Madden, of Las Vegas NV. She leaves a legacy of her 3 children and 18 grandchildren:
Gerald (KayMarie) Wheeler of Oakland: Bianca (Glenn) Forrester, Jason (Kamar) Wheeler, Iris (Jorge) Gonzalez de Chavez, Ezra (Shannon) Wheeler, Leon (Amy) Wheeler, Lila (Fernando) Aguilar and Gabriel Schweitzer:
Pamela (Richard) Ashby of Citrus Heights: Lisa Olander, Michelle (Christopher) Yost, Erik (Fawn) Ashby, Kirsten (Carl) Shafer, Jeff (Emily) Stepheson, Mia (Mark) Johnston, Nathan (Susanne) Ashby, Trevor (Kiwi) Ashby, and Elizabeth (Brian) Starr:
Ken (Jeannie) Wheeler of Bakersfield: Bryan (Jamie) Wheeler, Shannon (Jimmy) Nimmo:
Former daughters-in-law: Priscilla Mueller Wheeler Smith, Gina Leggett Wheeler and Lisa Gregg Wheeler:
Plus 42 great-grandchildren, 1 great-great-granddaughter and many nieces and nephews.
Most sincere thanks to John and Adina Nasui and the wonderful staff of “Splendor of Carmichael” for the loving care and personal attention given to Juanita for the last 2½ years. Also, the support provided by VITAS/Hospice in Juanita’s final days is greatly appreciated.
A memorial service will be held in Citrus Heights, on Friday, June 9. On Monday, June 12 at 10 AM, she will be laid to rest beside her beloved husband, Don, in a grave-side service at Hillcrest Memorial Park, 9101 Kern Canyon Road, Bakersfield.