morin' yall. well, i am glad this weekend is over. it was a very emotional weekend, with the season coming to another end and saying good bye to Dirk. I wanted to thank you all for your support, thoughts, encouraging words and most of all prayers! i am attaching the obituary that was in the paper about Dirk. he was definately a one of a kind and a blessing to know!
Thanks again, you all are awesome!
To God be the glory that we have assurance of eternity with Him!
Family and friends will gather at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, 2006, at North Street Church of Christ to celebrate the life and mourn the death of Dirk William Wheeler, who at only 24 could nonetheless truly be described as a modern-day Renaissance man. Wheeler died Jan. 26, 2006, in Nacogdoches after a year-and-a-half battle with cancer. Most people are happy to be good at just one thing, but Dirk excelled in many areas; everyone who knew him agreed. First impression upon meeting Dirk was of someone who displayed quiet dignity and respect. But it didn¹t take long to find out that he had a wonderful wit, a sense or humor and a sunny outlook on life. He told jokes ‹ always clean ones ‹ and he played a Mozart concerto on the piano, as well. And could he ever play the piano! He was in demand to perform often, whether formally at weddings and special events or just for fun at family gatherings. Music was his passion, and he shared it with everyone, from the time he began playing the piano at 11 years of age. His family said he always knew exactly what he wanted to do: Make music and teach others to do the same. His many music teachers and instructors over the years said Dirk was a born musician, reflected John Jordan, Nacogdoches ISD band director and music instructor. "A teacher is lucky if he has just one student in his lifetime who is a Dirk Wheeler," Jordan said. "He was the most special student I ever taught." "I¹ll never forget when he came to school as a sixth-grader and auditioned for the drums. He was this cute, red-headed boy, so smart and with all kinds of talent. It was clear early on that he was head and shoulders above everyone else. He paid really careful attention to the instruction, was respectful of the teachers, practiced hard and was so sharp. "I remember asking him at the elementary school if he could play any other instruments, and he said that, yes, he could play piano. At TJR the next year, we had a piano in the band hall, and I found out he could really play it very well. When he first sat down at the piano and played Floyd Cramer¹s "Last Date," I could see the extraordinary talent. Every day for two years that he was at TJR, I¹d make him play that same song for everyone before band class started. He never refused. He¹d smile and do it and enjoy it. Those two years were great. But knowing him as an adult was even more rewarding. Born October 13, 1981, in Nacogdoches to parents Tony and Sharon Sloane Wheeler, Dirk¹s childhood pictures show him always dressed immaculately. His friends always laughingly teased him that his version of casual dress was neatly pressed khaki pants and a freshly starched button-down shirt. He was more comfortable in a tuxedo than in jeans, they said. He was just as immaculate with his possessions. Dirk was featured in a Daily Sentinel newspaper story in 1998 headlined "He¹s an antique man" and photographed with his pride and joy, his 1956 restored Chevy Bel Air. He was a familiar sight around town driving his two-toned, green, classic car, which was always spotless, a reflection of Dirk himself. He was so devoted to classic and antique cars that he joined the Deep East Texas Region, Antique Auto Clubs of America, where he was both an officer and youth representative. When he was not driving his ¹56 Chevy in Nacogdoches parades with the car club, he was nonetheless still in the parade, riding behind a truck in a trailer and playing "Great Balls Of Fire" on the keyboard on behalf of the club. Probably because he was born in a family of antique collectors and lovers, Dirk was in some ways a throwback to an earlier era because he loved all things vintage. He collected old metal cars, old trains and old Dr Pepper memorabilia, and he had reproductions of an old radio and an old telephone. But he always said it wasn¹t ownership of the things that necessarily gave him joy. It was what they represented to him and others. He was quoted in the newspaper article as saying, "... in fact, that the best thing about owning and driving an old car wasn¹t the joy it brought him. It was the joy it seemed to bring to other people," he said. "When I¹m driving around town, people will honk their horns at me and give me a thumbs-up or perfect sign with their hands," he said in that article. "I¹ll see people in parking lots, and they¹ll say they had one just like that. This car brings back good memories for people, and I enjoy that. It¹s a lot of fun." Those who knew him were always amazed at his contrasts in character. He could play every note by memory on the piano of the American classic, George Gershwin¹s "Rhapsody in Blue," but also knew every word to Ray Stevens¹ country comedy song, "The Mississippi Squirrel Revival." His friends say he was a class act, but could be a tough competitor. He taught many of his friends to play dominoes, and groups often met at his home to play "bones." He also loved playing Monopoly, but especially enjoyed winning at it, and he had collected several vintage sets. In his view, the only channel on television was TV Land, and he particularly loved watching reruns of the "Andy Griffith Show" and "Red Skelton" on video. His lists of accomplishments and activities are long. Dirk crammed a lifetime of achievement and activity in 24 short years, as reflected in scrapbooks lovingly compiled over the years by his grandmother. Every award, every piano recital, every concert, every activity ‹ it¹s all there for the record. When he was in elementary school in 1989, he was featured on the cover of the annual report of the Texas Council on Economic Education. He made honor roll year after year, was in the gifted and talented program, in musical after musical, earned highest average honors and was in the Honor Society. Through the years, he earned many awards from his music teachers who featured him in recitals where he won the Whitlock silver and gold medals and Student of the Year award from the Nacogdoches Music Teachers Association. By junior high, he had entered the band in public school playing percussion, and throughout high school won solo and ensemble, area, regional and all-state honors year after year; outstanding percussion player; individual awards for talent and success and more. The respect and popularity he enjoyed with his friends was reflected in him being named NHS Class Favorite in both his sophomore and junior years. In high school, he was inducted into the National Honor Society, awarded the NHS Band Booster scholarship and won the SFA Academic Excellence Award, among other achievements. Dirk would have been accepted at almost any music school, but he loved his hometown of Nacogdoches and decided to major in music at Stephen F. Austin State University. While there, he was frequently named to the dean¹s list. He was also one of the founders at SFA of Beta Omicron Beta, or "Boys of the Old Brigade," a fraternity designed to promote the existence and welfare of military marching bands. Dirk loved the military band style, working tirelessly with his music friends to keep this form of music presentation alive in East Texas. He loved everything about the military style of marching ‹ its precision, its music and the discipline it brought to the students who were in it ‹ and decried the trend of flashier show bands. While attending SFA on scholarships, Dirk worked downtown at Shaw¹s Department Store, one of the few authentic old-style department stores left in existence. It was a perfect environment for Dirk¹s vintage interests with its wooden floors, eclectic styles of clothing and piles and piles of merchandise stacked everywhere. In spite of his busy class and work schedule, he performed over the years with the SFA Lumberjack Marching Band, Symphonic Band, Steel Drum Band, Percussion Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, Orchestra of the Pines and East Texas Honors Orchestra. He was also a member of Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society. With his flaming red hair and nimble fingers, Dirk was a striking figure performing onstage, whether as a percussionist playing the powerful timpani or as a pianist. He said one time that he was never nervous before a performance. His friends and family knew that he was always so prepared, so well-rehearsed, and so connected to the music that he had little fear he would get it wrong. And he rarely did. Dirk graduated from SFA with a bachelor of music degree in 2004. When he was diagnosed with cancer, he had just accepted a position as an assistant band director and music instructor with the Nacogdoches Independent School District to teach at McMichael Middle School ‹ and quickly became a favorite of his students with whom he shared his passion. One of his favorite memories was directing his last public performance at the annual NISD Christmas concert in 2005. Most of all, however, he loved his family and God. Dirk was a member of the North Street Church of Christ where he had been active in church activities all of his life. He participated with youth on a mission trip to Cayman Islands where he was baptized in the Caribbean waters; was active in the youth group; and was a congregational song leader. Other survivors in addition to his parents include his brother and sister-in-law, Grant and Kelly Wheeler; nieces, Jade and Hope Wheeler; grandmother, Hazel Phillips; and a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, other family and friends. Burial will be in Sunset Memorial Park. Visitation will be from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26, 2006, at the North Street Church of Christ. Ministers are Dorian Flynn, Scotty Spake and Bill Sherrill. Active pallbearers will be Earl Scott Mouton, Denver Glass, John Green, Alex Aucoin, Will Ashby and John Caleb Cody. Honorary pallbearers are Mr. John Jordan, Mr. Glynn Wells, Mr. Jim Hagood, Josh King, Taylor Belt, James Sky-Eagle Smith, Stephen Campbell, Weston Fischer, Kenny Peters, Ebaristo Torres, Letney Head and Ben Johnson. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Dirk Wheeler Memorial Music Education Scholarship, c/o SFA Alumni Association, P. O. Box 6096, Nacogdoches, Texas 75962; or to the NHS Alumni Association, P.O. Box 632152, Nacogdoches, Texas 75963. Cason Monk-Metcalf Funeral Directors.
Published in The Daily Sentinel on 1/27/2006.
REST PEACEFULLY GOOD FRIEND!
if i could make a scented candle, i'd make call it... gunpowder in the sunrise! or wet dog, swamp mud and gun smoke!