Former longtime Hanover Park Park District director dies at 74
Larry Wheeler, who served as director of the Hanover Park Park District for 20 years and remained a financial adviser to it for several more, died Monday at his house in Crystal Lake. He was 74.
More recently, Wheeler served as an elected commissioner of the Crystal Lake Park District for two terms through this spring.
Longtime Hanover Park Park District Commissioner Mark Elkins fondly remembered his friend who was equally adept at running a park district, serving as a financial adviser and doing such household maintenance as drywall work -- not to mention being able to beat him at racquetball despite being the same age as Elkins' mother.
"I learned to play while I was a commissioner," Elkins said. "We had a lot of good-natured ribbing about how the old man could beat me."
Wheeler was born in Princeton, Indiana in 1945, drafted into the Army in 1966, and graduated from Officer Candidate School in 1967, according to his published obituary. He was stationed in Kitzingen, Germany from 1967 to his honorable discharge in 1969.
Wheeler became a student at Eastern Illinois University in 1970, where he met his wife, JoAnn Christensen. Their four children were born from 1972 to 1984.
He earned a degree in parks and recreation in 1974 and began working at the Hanover Park Park District the same year. He became its director 11 years later, and retired from that role in 2005.
"He was a nice man and he enjoyed his life," Elkins said. "He was dedicated to his children. He was also very proud of his youthful-looking wife."
Wheeler's own military service made him especially excited when his son, Paul, went into the Navy, Elkins said.
"He was very proud to ride on an aircraft carrier with Paul," he added.
Though giving up his role as financial adviser to the Hanover Park Park District just a few years ago, he continued to pursue such hobbies as golf, camping, fishing and following the St. Louis Cardinals.
His survivors include his wife of 47 years, his four children, nine grandchildren, two brothers and a sister.
A visitation for Wheeler will be at noon Saturday, July 27, at the Kahle-Moore Funeral Home at 403 Silver Lake Road in Cary, followed by a funeral service at 2 p.m. at the same location.
For more information about the services, call (847) 639-3817 or visit kahlemoore.com.