Joseph C. Wheeler ’48

Joseph C. Wheeler ’48 died on February 11, 2024, in Concord, Massachusetts.

(The following was provided by Boston Globe in February 16, 2024:)

Joseph C. Wheeler ’48

Joseph Coolidge Wheeler, man of vision, age 97, died in his sleep, at home in Concord, Massachusetts, on February 11, 2024. Born in Concord November 21, 1926, to Caleb Henry Wheeler and Ruth Winifred (Robinson) Wheeler, Joe studied at Concord High School (1945), Bowdoin College (1948), the Graduate Institute of International Studies of Geneva and Harvard’s Littauer School (MA/MPA 1951). A distinguished career in international development included posts in Jordan, Pakistan, Kenya, Paris, and Geneva. Returning to Concord after retirement, he was active in town affairs. Joe described boyhood on Thoreau Farm as idyllic. A brother’s twenty-dollar gift to attend a Quaker conference on World Federalism launched his international career at age 15. Becoming a World Federalist student leader, he organized national and international conferences to promote world governance and an end to war. Joe worked for the U.S. foreign aid program (USAID), the Peace Corps, the United Nations Environmental Program, and the Organization for Economic Development. He was USAID mission director to Jordan (1965-1967) and Pakistan (1969-1977) and USAID Assistant Administrator from 1980 to 1982. Deeply committed to environmental issues, he organized the 1992 Earth Summit. Joe introduced himself to his first wife, Jean (Huleatt) Wheeler, after their pictures appeared together in the Boston Globe as winners of Globe scholarships for international study. They married as students in Geneva. While Joe worked at the State Department and Jean wrote her PhD thesis, they shared family responsibilities for five children. Abroad, they took the family on camping road trips throughout the Middle East. After losing Jean and son Daniel in a 1969 car accident, Joe married M. Verona (Farness) Wheeler, beginning a joyful forty-four-year marriage, living in Islamabad, Washington, Nairobi, Paris, and Geneva. Between adventures, they hosted innumerable diplomatic and family gatherings. His children and grandchildren will always remember visits to Paris and Kenya, fabulous holiday meals, and intensely competitive family croquet games. Joe became blind in his eighties, yet found ways to manage his blindness with remarkable grace, always describing his quality of life as very good. He leaves five children, Juliet Wheeler and Rachel Wheeler of Concord, MA, Deborah (Wheeler) Burk of Annandale, VA, Caleb Henry Wheeler of St. Louis, MO, and Margaret Jeanne Kane of Walnut Creek, CA; sons-in-law, Kenneth Turkington and John Myers; five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his four brothers, both wives; son Daniel Lincoln Wheeler; and stepdaughter Marilee Kane.

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