The Story of a Life Well Lived

Anita (Wheeler) Secrist

Paul and Anita wedding picture (Listen to Paul & Anita sing while you read this article)
"So Soon It Is Over"  

Paul Wheeler
, my husband and my love for 37 years, was loved by everyone who knew him.  I met Paul at Northwest College the first hour after I arrived in the fall of 1963.  Someone told me that there were two “sought out” guys on campus and Paul Wheeler, the ASB President that year, was one of them.  Little did I know that he would make me the happiest woman in the world for 37 beautiful years.

Paul had a wonderful, funloving personality that drew people to him.  He was musical, athletic, and passionate in his devotion to Christ.  During his four years at Northwest he played on the Eagles Basketball team, traveled for the college on musicial outreach teams, and served in several student leadership offices including ASB President, and President of the Missionary Society.  Paul graduated with a degree in Missions in the spring of 1965.

Paul and I were married immediately following his graduation in June 1965. Our fellow NC classmates and dear friends, Judy Kennedy and Howard Hoskins were our maid of honor, and best man. Not long after we married, Paul became the youth pastor at Church By The Side of the Road in South Seattle.  Within 6 months of taking that position he was upgraded from 4-D to 1-A in his draft status. However,  since we had already accepted a pastoral position in a church in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming, his induction into the military was deferred.

Paul Wheeler family pictureOver the next three and a half decades, we served together in the ministry in Stoneham, Colorado, Superior and Cut Bank, Montana, then spent 2 years in American Samoa building and teaching in the Bible School.  After returning to the states Paul returned to pastoral ministry in Gunnison, Colorado.  The remaining years of ministry were spent in Baker and Libby, Montana.  While in Baker Paul was director of the Eastside Kid’s Camp for 8 years, and also ran the snack stand for Senior Teen at Hungry Horse for many years.  The last 6 years of Paul's life were spent serving as pastor of the Assembly of God church in Libby, Montana.  It was while pastoring there that Paul was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Following surgery and chemotherapy in 1997 he lived cancer-free until the summer of 2000.  Paul passed away on March 26, 2001 in Libby, Montana at the age of 58.

Paul loved pastoring.  He was passionate about preaching and teaching the Word of God.  Serving God and his family was always Paul’s focus.  In our 37 years of marriage Paul and I were blessed with 3 sons; Michael Paul, Steven Howard, and Scott Daniel.  They were the joy of Paul’s life and continue to be that joy in mine.  He was a great dad and totally committed to all they were involved in, whether it be church, sports, or school.  Paul loved sports and enjoyed challenging his sons to wrestling matches, but I can’t remember a time when they ever won.  He shared many happy times hunting, hiking and camping with his boys and me.  Paul was there for them and I will always grieve that they lost their dad way too young.

Paul’s legacy will live on in the lives of his family and all who knew and loved him.  He is deeply missed by all.