Harvard - Norman J. Wheeler, 90, passed away peacefully on October 4, 2019 at Lowell General Hospital after a fall at his home.
“Norm” was born on December 4, 1928 to Earle A. and Hazel (Brewer) Wheeler. Raised in Berlin, he spent his years between Berlin and Harvard, and enjoyed many winters at his home in Florida.
He leaves his son, Malcolm E. Wheeler and his wife Julie, of Berlin, daughter, Sallie-Ann Wheeler of Princeton, granddaughters, Laura (Wheeler) Cove and her husband, Dan, of Worcester, Emily Wheeler of Berlin, great-granddaughter, Lilly Cove of Worcester, and sister-in-law, Sylvia Wheeler of Berlin, as well as many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
He was predeceased by his parents; wife, Bessie (Austin) (Dupuis) Wheeler, brother, Donald B. Wheeler, sister, Dora (Wheeler) Cummings and his first wife, Jane E. (Wallace) Wheeler.
After marrying Bessie (who put “life into his life”!) in 1987, Norm became very close to her family and considered them extensions of his own family. He leaves Elizabeth Grebloski and her husband, Anthony, of Manchester, NH, Judith Fitzgerald and her husband, Edmund, of Marlborough, Gregory Dupuis and his wife, Katherine, of Lunenburg, Arthur Dupuis of Richmond, NH, Anthony Dupuis and his wife, Theresa, of Winchendon, and Matthew Dupuis of Leominster, as well as 13 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild. He was predeceased by Bessie’s son, Raymond Dupuis, who passed away in 2015.
Norm graduated from Worcester Boys Trade High School and was a Corporal in the Army stationed in Korea and Japan, working as a tank repair shop foreman. He was a proud Mason, Shriner, member of the American Legion and was on the Fire Department, Board of Trade and Planning Board in Berlin.
A lover of all things mechanical, Norm spent his early years working in the family Hudson dealership, and his spare time building and racing Hudson automobiles. An astute businessman, after the passing of his father-in-law, he ran Wallace's NAPA Auto Parts and grew the business into a 4-store operation. Years later, he and Malcom (“Mac”) opened Central Auto Parts in Leominster and added a Clinton location where he worked with his daughter, Sallie until his retirement.
Norm always had a true passion for Hudsons and after retiring, began a quest to “save” and restore every Hudson he could. With Bessie by his side (an active participant in the restorations - stitching the upholstery on the Singer commercial sewing machine Norm bought her for that purpose), they collected and restored many cars and attended Hudson Club Meets. Norm was a long-time member of the Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Club and the New England Chapter of HET. Traveling to Detroit to participate in the Hudson Motor Car Centennial in 2009 was a highlight of his life.
He also enjoyed time spent with his cousin, Fred Brewer, and nephew, Bobby Wheeler working on Old Engines and taking part in engine shows.
Norm was most comfortable at the beloved summer cottage he and Bessie converted to a 4-season home on Bare Hill Pond in Harvard, where his neighbors were like family and he hosted many gatherings and “Pond Parties” over the years.
A period of visitation will be held from 11 am until 12 pm followed by a Celebration of Norm’s Life at 12 pm, on Saturday, October 19, 2019 at 12:00 p.m. at Tighe Hamilton Regional Funeral Home, 50 Central Street, Hudson, MA 01749. Wear your Hudson, Old Engine and racing t-shirts, drive your special car (if you have one), and share your favorite “Norm stories” with us! Private burial in South Cemetery, Berlin, will take place at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Norm’s memory may be made to Harvard Ambulance Gift Fund, c/o Harvard Ambulance Service, 40 Ayer Road, Harvard, MA 01456.
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