Cover photo for Richard Dean "Wheeldog" Wheeler's Obituary
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Richard Dean "Wheeldog" Wheeler

March 4, 1962 — May 12, 2023


Richard Dean "Wheeldog" Wheeler

Richard Dean “Wheeldog” Wheeler, 61 of Gaylord, tragically passed away Friday, May 12, 2023.

Born in Lansing, Michigan on March 4, 1962, he was the son of Richard James and Nancy Sharon (Geahan) Wheeler.  Richard grew up in Lansing, Brighton, Holt, and Williamston in Michigan, then Albany, Oregon, then finally in Gaylord, where he graduated from Gaylord High School in 1980. 

He served in the U.S. Navy from 1979, delayed entry program, until 1981.  Later, he served in the Michigan Army National Guard from 1998-2018.  He served two tours in Iraq, operated a Hemtt eight-wheel refueler at Camp Grayling Army Airfield, and spent the summer refueling helicopters.

At Camp Grayling, he also served with the Michigan Volunteer Defense Force Brigade, 6th Battalion, Charlie Company; a volunteer force that is part of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

The awards he received during his military service are numerous and too many to mention.  They demonstrate the quality of his character and his dedication to serving his country.

During and after his military career, Rick worked as a steel tank welder. He also worked for Dura in East Jordan; as a chef at Sylvan Resort; a manager, cook and dishwasher at Gobblers of Gaylord; I.C.P. Beckman Production Services; and the Department of Veterans Affairs in Saginaw for 11 1/2 years.

Rick enjoyed golf, bowling, camping, and helping his community through the local VFW Post #1518, the Eagles, the American Legion in Grayling, the Disabled American Veterans in Traverse City, the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CVMA 35-6), the Motorcycle Rights group (ABATE) Region 4, and Gaylord Elks Lodge No. 2544.  Rick was a volunteer firefighter and EMT out of Waters.

Rick is survived by his wife, Mary (Byrne) Wheeler, they were married in Gaylord in 2002.  Also surviving is his son, James Wheeler of East Jordan; his parents, Richard (Kristina) Wheeler of Gaylord and Nancy Plawecki of Lewiston; his stepdad, Richard Plawecki of Utah; sisters, Debra Wheeler of Lewiston and Danielle Ray of Mt. Pleasant; brothers, Tony Wheeler of Howell and Jason (Marie) Plawecki of Midway, Utah; his brother-in-law, Dan (Amy) Byrne of Gaylord; nieces and nephews, Kramer, Camron, Brady, Delaney, Bryce, Alec, Amelia, Brad (Kenna), Emily (Matt), and Nate; his best friend and battle buddy, Scott Starks of Gaylord; many other family and friends; and his VFW, American Legion , ABATE and CVMA families.

Rick’s family will visit with friends from 1:00-7:00 PM Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Gaylord Community Funeral Home & Cremation Service.  Funeral services will be held at 12:00 Noon Thursday, May 18, 2023, at Gaylord E-Free Church, where visitation will begin at 11:00 AM.  Interment with full military honors will follow at Fairview Cemetery in Gaylord. A celebration of life luncheon will immediately follow. Those who wish are asked to consider memorial contributions in Rick’s memory to VFW Post #1518 Building Fund.  

Please share your memories and personal messages with Rick’s family on the guestbook, below.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Richard Dean "Wheeldog" Wheeler, please visit our flower store.

Past Services


Wednesday, May 17, 2023

1:00 - 7:00pm (Eastern time)

Gaylord Community Funeral Home & Cremation Service

850 N. Center Ave. / P.O. Box 249, Gaylord, MI 49734

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Starts at 12:00pm (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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