Dr. Michael Phillip Wheeler

Thursday, February 11, 2021
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On February 2, 2021 the lights went out in the Wheeler garage. Dr. Michael Phillip Wheeler completed his valiant fight to remain on God’s beautiful earth a little while longer. There were a few projects left to complete, deals to make, friends and family to visit and adventures he would have liked to experience. (Yes, he did leave a list.)

Mike was born October 18, 1946 to Vera Mae (Levad) and Sgt. Mike Clyde Wheeler of Forest City, Iowa. He joined his older brother John Henry Wheeler (Rapid City, SD). John bought Mike his first .22 when he was 11, taught him to drive, and the two grew closer as the years went on. When the boys were school age, Vera and her friend Gretchen Falb moved the boys to the wild west, California! Gretchen held a special place in Mike’s heart and he felt that her loving support and influence was pivotal to his success in life.

After one year out west, the family then moved to Wayzata, Minnesota. Mike graduated with honors, was Senior Class President and Captain of the football team, 1965. Mike then hit the road with a suitcase, his thumb and $29.71 in his pocket. His journals detailed his travels across ND, SD, MT, ID, WA picking up odd jobs along the way. He met a wide range of people who were kind ,or not, and was occasionally scared or hungry. He also got to sleep under the stars, enjoy a cold Coke and some candy as a splurge and have pride in earning a decent paycheck. Through this, moving west became his dream.

Mike was awarded wrestling/football/academic scholarship to Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. He met several life long friends while attending and graduated in 1969. All the while, Mike had his high school sweetheart Linda Lee Olson in his life, and they married June 11, 1969. He lost his father in 1969.

Dental school began at the University of Minnesota later that year. Matthew William was born to the couple in 1970 and Jason John in 1972. Mike and Linda worked as caretakers of a property on Lake Minnetonka, raised their babies and completed their education. Mike worked as an assistant for the county coroner, and a dental lab. Needing money to pay off student loans, Mike and two of his dental school lab partners joined the Navy. These men ended up in different locations during their service but remained very close.

The Navy sent the family to Newfoundland, Canada. Mike said that those years were the best of his life. He had grand adventures in an abundant land, forged solid friendships and served his country with pride.

Upon honorable military discharge and a recommendation from another veteran, Mike went west and landed in Laurel, Montana. He served the Laurel community for 40 years as a dentist and is renowned for his skill, talent and generosity. It was very common for him to barter, trade or donate services (with the help of his wonderful staff) so that others needs could be met. He was involved in Rotary, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited, Cowboy Mounted Shooting Assn.

Of course, a lot of life continued to happen during these years. His boys were guided and raised. His mother Vera passed in 1996. He became a grandfather by Matt and Renee having Casey, April and Allison (deceased) and son Jason having Evan and Hayden. He was very fortunate to spend several months adoring his Great grandson Robert Matthew Sauter (April and Tyler). His travels included Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada and Africa to name a few.On June 6, 2012, Mike married Tanya Halland. She was the love of his life. Together they loved fishing, hunting, traveling, horseback riding and enjoying their retirement as best they could. Tanya got Mike through some very tough years fighting this battle with him to the end.

Mike lived a life that many can only dream of. An avid outdoorsman, horseman, fisherman, hunter, collector, dentist and friend. His passion, talent and generosity was extraordinary. In his final weeks, there was opportunity for his family and great friends to share countless stories and memories. Many of you were part of those stories and many got honorable mentions-for better or worse! We thank those friends and family, near and far, for your support, attendance, presence and mostly the good times. Mike was also grateful.

We thank you Mike for always having the garage door open. As an old friend once said, “I do believe it is time for a short one”.

Military burial and reception will be held in June. Memorial donations may be made to the Laurel Community Foundation www.laurelcommunity.org. Proceeds will be used to rebuild the Kid’s Kingdom playground in Laurel.

Special thanks to his medical team led by Dr. Lucas and Stillwater Hospice.

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Upcoming Events

Monday, March 8, 2021
Mondays, 1:30 p.m., 201 1/2 E Main St.
Monday, March 8, 2021
Second & fourth Monday at 11 a.m., Big Horn Resort, 1801 Majestic Lane, 281-8455
Monday, March 8, 2021
Free, 2nd Monday, 3-5 p.m., Frontier Cancer Center, 1315 Golden Valley Cir., Billings, 800-227-2345
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Wednesdays, 7 p.m., 201 1/2 E. Main St., Laurel
Thursday, March 11, 2021
2nd Thursday, 6 p.m., Council Chambers
Monday, March 15, 2021
Mondays, 1:30 p.m., 201 1/2 E Main St.

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