Machinists' Don Wheeler dies at 62

Don Wheeler, recently retired business representative of Machinists District Lodge 24, passed away Oct. 9. He was 62.

A lifelong Washington resident, Wheeler was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney in February. The kidney was removed in May, but following his retirement in June doctors discovered the cancer had spread. He was preparing to go on a train trip with his son when he suffered a fatal heart attack due to the effects of chemotherapy and other treatments.

Wheeler served on the Clark, Skamania and West Klickitat Counties Labor Council, the Washington Machinists Council, the Vancouver Machinists and Auto Machinists Apprenticeship Committee, the Clark County Vocational Skills Center, board member for the Mt. View High School machining and welding class, member of the Diesel Advisory Board at Portland Community College, delegate to the Portland Metal Trades Council, and president of the Columbia Power Trades Council.

Wheeler was a member and current president of the Pacific Railroad Preservation Association, which maintains and operates the SP&S 700 steam locomotive.

Wheeler joined Machinists Lodge 1374 in 1966 after going to work for Columbia Machine in Vancouver. He was elected secretary-treasurer of District Lodge 17 in 1971. The lodge later was merged into District Lodge 24 and Wheeler became a business representative. He also served as a shop steward trainer, attended three Machinists Grand Lodge conventions as a delegate and assisted in numerous organizing drives.

Wheeler was born May 18, 1940, in Centralia, and lived in Camas for 39 years.

Survivors include his wife, Joyce; one daughter, Michelle McKinney of Vancouver; four sons, Mark of Lynnwood, Michael of Vancouver, and Brent and Wade, both of Tacoma; two sisters, Lois Farnam of Vancouver and Marlene Waldbauer of Goldendale; and four grandchildren.

A funeral service was held Oct. 14 at the Church of Christ in Vancouver and burial was at Camas Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Pacific Railroad Preservation Association, P.O. Box 2851, Portland, OR 97208; or the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 371, Vancouver, Wash. 98666.

October 18, 2002 issue

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