Melvin Leroy Wheeler, 90, of Martin, S.D., passed from this world on July 3, 2019, in the presence of family at the Bennett County Hospital. He was born October 1, 1928, to Oliver John Wheeler and Pauline Blanche Gebhart, in Wessington Springs. Melvin came from a family of nine children. Brothers include Robert, Charles, Lowell, John and James. Sisters include Phyllis, Joyce and the youngest, Nancy.
Early on in his life Melvin worked hard in several different fields and was known to many as an entrepreneur. When his family located in Martin, one such job was the Police Chief from 1953 to 1954, where he met and fell in love with the mother of his children, Velma Alice Shangreaux. They worked for a while in the migratory field but eventually settled in Dannebrog, Neb.,in 1961 to raise their children. Melvin owned two separate businesses there. One was “Chief Grain Bins,” and also “Wheeler Excavation,” where he provided homes and jobs for several family members.
Melvin loved horses and was an excellent horse trainer. He was involved in Little Britches Rodeo and 4-H club so that he could be there to help his children. His real love though was stock car racing, and he always involved the entire family in his projects. He built and raced his own cars and eventually his children raced with and for him. When Melvin and Velma relocated back to South Dakota in 1972, he opened his own mechanics garage to support his family. He was hard working, and loved and respected in the community. In his later years he moved on to Gordon, then White Clay, where he owned and operated a couple of salvage yards, then finally retiring and moving to Slim Buttes.
Melvin is survived by his eldest daughter, Mary Ellen (from a previous marriage); sons, Danny, Oliver, David and Justin; daughters, Debra, Sandra, Joyce, Rebecca, Cindy and Mandy; children he raised as his own, including Richard Vine Shangreaux, LaDonna Shangreaux, Santee Rose Richards-Shangreaux, Thelma Shangreax; his granddaughter, Angeline Jonelle Wheeler, and grandson Tristan Trevor Wheeler; as well as many, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his mother, Pauline; father, Oliver; Velma Shangreaux-Wheeler, and Baby Son Gary.
Funeral services will be held at the American Legion Hall in Martin at 1:00 p.m., on Saturday, July 13. His ashes will be buried between his mother and father at the Martin Community Cemetery, to be followed by a celebration of his life and a meal back at the Legion Hall at 2:00 p.m. Services will be conducted by Pastor John Poff from the Lakota Chapel in Martin, and Jeff Sisco, a long-time family friend and former Pastor.