Paul J. Wheater, 84, of Fremont died on Wednesday, March 28 at the Newaygo Medical Care Facility after suffering a series of small strokes in recent weeks.
He was born on October 31, 1933 to William Walter and Marion (Smith) Wheater of Kalamazoo. He graduated from Western State High School in Kalamazoo in 1952 and enlisted in the United States Navy, serving as a Navy corpsman during the Korean War years.
He married Marsha L. Ripley of Kalamazoo on June 21, 1957 in Kalamazoo and they remained married for 60 years, raising five sons together.
A serious and lifelong student of the Bible, Paul Wheater graduated from Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music and was later licensed as a gospel preacher. He worked as a hospital orderly before beginning a job at Keeler Brass Company, staying with the Grand Rapids company for more than 30 years.
He and his family moved to the Fremont area in 1966, but he continued working in Grand Rapids until his retirement.
He was a founding member and longtime board member of Country Bible Church and was active in virtually every aspect of the ministry of the church. He served as the church’s song leader for many years, a role he filled at Aetna Calvary Church for many years before that. He led many Bible study groups, taught Sunday School classes and provided consistent and steadfast encouragement to pastors, missionaries, musicians and anyone else who did the Lord’s work.
He was also a founding member of the Northwoods Brothers gospel music group and played the violin and sang with the group for the rest of his life.
Paul Wheater’s life was characterized by service. He diligently served his God, his nation, his family, his friends and strangers. For example, he picked up hitchhikers long after others abandoned the practice.
He was a member of the Holton American Legion Post who donated blood faithfully for nearly all of his adult life, passing the 15-gallon mark several years ago. He was a member of the River Valley Cruisers Car Club and enjoyed displaying the 1969 Buick Riviera that he and his son Dale Wheater had restored. He also served on the board of Cornerstone Christian Academy in Fremont.
He was known for his lively sense of humor, his extensive stock of jokes and funny stories, and his love of pranks and practical jokes.
His life of service included decades of visits with residents at the Newaygo Medical Care Facility and elsewhere. He continued putting thousands of miles on his vehicles after retirement, volunteering as a driver for the Newaygo County Commission on Aging and other local agencies, and he was a regular part of gospel music performances at area nursing homes. He also volunteered with Hospice of Michigan.
Paul Wheater is survived by sons Richard (LouAnne) Wheater Sr. of Fremont, Donald Wheater of Grand Rapids, Dean (Debra) Wheater of Fremont and Douglas (Ramona) Wheater of Fremont, his sister Norma (Wheater) Ulmer of Richmond, Kentucky, grandchildren Patricia Wheater, Richard Wheater Jr., Heidi (Branden) Wagenmaker, Rebecca (Nick) DeWeerd, Theresa Wheater, Samantha Wheater, Joseph Wheater, Chaz Wheater and Tayzha Wheater; seven great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife Marsha in January, by his parents, by his youngest son Dale Wheater in 1993, and by his brothers John Wheater, Stanley Wheater and Charles Wheater.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, April 6 at 11 a.m.at Country Bible Church at 3145 W. 24th Street northeastof Fremont. Visitation will be on Thursday, April 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Kroeze-Wolffis Funeral Home in Fremont.
For memorials, the family suggests his church, Country Bible Church, or the Dale Wheater and Riley Klingel Memorial Fund at the Fremont Area Community Foundation.
Dale Wheater Riley Klingel High School Cross Country Endowment Fund at the Fremont Area Foundation
P.O. Box B, Fremont MI 49412
Country Bible Church
P.O. Box 299, Fremont MI 49412