Walter Chester Wheeler, born in 1940 in Lancaster, PA, son of Richard G. Wheeler and Helen C. Munson, died December 2 after a short illness.
Walt was Educated at Mt. Hermon School, Wesleyan University and Michigan State University, he served in the US Army from 1962 to 1965.
He began his broadcast journalism career working for radio stations in Manchester, Meriden, and New Haven, CT, before joining NBC News in NY as a radio and TV reporter and news anchor in 1968. His career included stints with UPI and CBS -- where he was Chief Political Reporter for WCBS for more than a decade. He was also VP News at Empire State Network, a state radio network serving stations in markets across NY, which he founded along with colleagues from WCBS – often referred to as NewsRadio88. Respected for his high journalistic standards and known as a stickler for detail, Walt was also famous for his rich, deep voice, or as the late Gov. Mario Cuomo called it, "the voice of God."
In the remaining decade-plus before his retirement, Walt served as the Deputy Chief of Public Affairs at New York State's Division of Military and Naval Affairs. In that role he participated in NYANG's "Cool School" Arctic survival training; the NY CounterDrug program and its SWAT Training schools; in various emergency management exercises; and was DMNA's spokesperson and webmaster.
After retirement, he created and maintained websites for commercial, non-profit and municipal entities and remained a firefighter with the South Schodack Fire Department until earlier this year. He first served as a firefighter in 1960, while attending Wesleyan and had been with SSFD for 27 years, including several years as an assistant chief and 2 terms as president of the fire company, a position he held at the time of his death. He had a lifelong interest in astronomy and has been a member of the Springfield Telescope Makers since the 1960s.
Walt is survived by his wife, Linda; a brother, Bruce Wheeler, of Castleton; sisters Margaret Sadoway of Turners Falls, MA, and Ruth Wheeler of Lenox, MA; daughters Kate Wheeler, of Hampton, NH, and Nancy Kirkpatrick of Woodbury, MN; step-son Steven Scotten of Schodack; granddaughters Kelsie and Lucy Kirkpatrick; one aunt; nieces, nephews and many cousins. He was predeceased by his younger brother, Paul Wheeler.
A celebration of Walt's life will be held at the South Schodack Fire Company Building at 1567 Bame Road, Castleton at 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 9. Friends and relatives are invited.
In Lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to the South Schodack Volunteer Fire Company; the Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc., PO box 601, Springfield, VT, 05156; or Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA. Online condolences may be offered at Mooneyfuneralhome.com