BY MARCY SHORTUSE – Legends by no means die, and our island has had our share of the massive ones. There are some names that stand out greater than others, nonetheless, and Dee Wheeler is one among them. Whereas born in Sarasota and raised in Englewood, she married island boy Dumplin ‘Wheeler in 1958 and – apart from a interval when the couple lived in Virginia after they have been within the military – Boca Grande was really his residence. . She started working with Englewood Parks and Recreation, following within the footsteps of her mom, Martha Shirling, who was a member of the Sarasota County Recreation Council and labored because the Adolescent Director for the County Program at Englewood. Because the early Seventies Dee had been working to create applications for the island’s youth and he or she by no means stopped till the day of her demise in Could 2017.
So it wasn’t a lot of a shock, on the finish of July, that Dee’s daughters, Stephanie Wheeler Taylor and Brandy Wheeler Jenner, began writing letters to the Lee County authorities to see if there was any. had a approach to commemorate their mom by some means in La Boca. Grande Neighborhood Middle, the place Dee was the supervisor of the Boca Grande Neighborhood Middle for many years.
In a letter written lately to Lee County Commissioner John Manning, the ladies wrote:
I do know you labored with our mom, Dee Wheeler, when she was director of the Boca Grande neighborhood middle for over 34 years. Subsequently, it is best to know the way a lot she performed a decisive position in creating sustainable applications for the middle and the neighborhood of Boca Grande. You may not understand that she really began creating applications for the neighborhood when the middle was nonetheless an deserted constructing, typically with toys and proceeds from baking gross sales, and pushed the individuals of Boca Nice to have a neighborhood middle within the first place. . She beloved everybody in Boca Grande, however you in all probability know she beloved kids probably the most. Virtually the entire applications she has created began out with academic and enjoyable applications and particular occasions for kids. These particular occasions and applications have grown, and lots of of them are nonetheless in place right this moment! The Spring Bike Parade, Easter Egg Hunt, Halloween Carnival, and Summer time Camp proceed to thrive and turn into an increasing number of common yearly.
As a result of Mother’s many contributions to the Boca Grande Neighborhood Middle (and the neighborhood at massive), we want to honor her reminiscence by giving her identify to a part of the neighborhood middle. His tireless vitality and staunch dedication to kids’s programming is second to none. We expect the entire middle ought to be referred to as the Dee Wheeler Neighborhood Middle in Boca Grande, however we’re conscious that that may very well be a bit an excessive amount of. As an alternative, we’re asking that the Multipurpose Corridor be renamed the Dee Wheeler Multipurpose Corridor, or one thing related. We figured the multi-purpose corridor could be probably the most appropriate, as that is the place kids’s applications are most frequently hosted, and lots of particular occasions incorporate the multi-purpose corridor as nicely.
The neighborhood middle multipurpose room is a superb place to commemorate Dee. That is the room by which extracurricular actions happen (one other program created by Dee, together with Betsy Joiner), in addition to a lot of the Lee County Parks and Recreation summer time camp program. It might have been inconceivable for Dee to know that at some point her identify might probably be commemorated on this approach, however, from that day on in 1970, when she requested the Crowninshield board of administrators for $ 350 Neighborhood Home to create a kids’s program, its dedication to the youth of Boca Grande won’t ever cease.
Whereas her primary focus was on the kids, she was additionally considering of the adults on the island. Shortly after working to create the previous Arthur Houghton Jr. Reference Room in the neighborhood middle, in order that kids who lived on the island had a quiet place and reference materials to do their homework, Dee mentioned : “I think about the day when all of the dad and mom, all of the adults, will use this place like I do now. I do know they may come to understand it.
From Halloween Carnival, Spring Bike Parade and Previous Munchkins Preschool Program, to Boca Bunch, Boca Buddies and extra, Dee has been instrumental in offering enjoyable and secure actions for our kids. For years, the Dee Wheeler scholarship program has helped kids attend camp and after-school care when their dad and mom didn’t have the cash to permit them to attend in any other case. Even after her official retirement in 2008, she continued to volunteer for kids’s actions on the island, till her passing.
Brandy and Stephanie actually admire this tight-knit neighborhood crammed with individuals who beloved their moms.
“We want to thank the Boca Grande Neighborhood Middle and the neighborhood for all of the love and assist you have got proven for the summer time camp every summer time,” they mentioned. “We’re so grateful and proud that our kids have participated within the applications these previous summers. We care that our households have been in a position to perpetuate the legacy of mom, her grandchildren collaborating within the applications that she launched and created a few years in the past.
“Everybody who had the nice fortune to know Mother knew that her past love and her precedence was for the kids in our neighborhood. She has labored tirelessly to create academic and enjoyable applications for the kids of Boca Grande and could be honored for the assist the neighborhood has proven to maintain these beliefs sturdy. Thanks very a lot Joe, DJ and different employees for honoring Mother’s reminiscence by persevering with to offer high quality programming all year long. Additionally, thanks to the neighborhood for supporting the Dee Wheeler Scholarship Fund, which permits all kids to take part in the summertime program regardless of the monetary hardship the household could have. Mother wished all kids to be included and could be very grateful, like her household, to those that proceed to make this a actuality. Boca Grande is and all the time has been a particular place and we’re lucky to be part of it!
We are going to proceed to maintain you knowledgeable of the progress of this request to vary the identify of the multipurpose corridor.