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Dr. Robert Clews Wheeler II, 76, died late Monday evening, Oct. 22, 2012, of complications from Parkinson's disease.
Born on Nov. 22, 1935, he was the only child of Clarence Daniel Wheeler and Judith Newton Claybrook Wheeler. His father's Army Air Corps career occasioned many moves. Rob liked to boast that he had attended 13 schools in 12 years.
He was a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Medical School. He trained in internal medicine and cardiology during his internship, residency and fellowship at the University of Virginia.
In 1967 he was drafted and served three years at the U.S. Army Natick Laboratories in Massachusetts. He spent two more years at Boston City Hospital as a cardiology fellow and instructor in Harvard's Thorndike Lab. In Boston he met and married his wife, Mary Ellen. Fredericksburg became their home in 1972.
Leaving academic medicine behind, Dr. Wheeler chose to focus on people, not procedures. He delighted in finding newspaper clippings about patients, which he then attached to their charts. He cared deeply for them as human beings and fellow travelers. He was a superb clinician.
Nature, conservation and historic preservation were major interests. A busy physician and civic activist, a Board of Zoning Appeals, Planning Commission and City Council member, he often remarked that "Nature restores me." Restoration of his own house and the Female Charity School and the salvage of the Pitzer house (now Lewis Store) were some of the many projects he tackled. Perhaps the most ambitious was the purchase of Hunter's Island (aka Lauck's Island). He felt deeply the need to protect this rare and fragile landscape, surrounded as it was by ever-increasing sprawl. He saw the island as a precious resource for the community to enjoy responsibly. He guarded it with the help of like-minded conservationists, most notably the Friends of the Rappahannock.
Dr. Wheeler is survived by his wife of 40 years; two daughters, Mary Elizabeth Wheeler of New York City and Sarah Brockenbrough Wheeler of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and two granddaughters, Mary Elizabeth Moorehouse and Casey Anne Moorehouse of New York City.
Hughes Home and Mary Washington Hospice embraced him at the end of his days, with the loving care he had extended to others throughout his professional life.
A memorial service will be celebrated at St. George's Church at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3.
The family requests that expressions of sympathy take the form of donations to the Friends of the Rappahannock, 3219 Fall Hill Ave., Fredericksburg, Va. 22401.