Harry and Peggy Wheeler ’72 were on a fishing trip in Canada in August 2019 when they received a shocking phone call. Harry’s oldest son, Todd ’86, had died suddenly at age 55. The couple had the long car drive home to talk about Todd, his remarkable life, and how they might honor his legacy. “He believed in, and lived, a life of service beyond self,” Harry said. “We wanted to continue that legacy of service.”
Harry and Peggy had previously established a scholarship in memory of Harry’s first wife, Brenda, who died in 2008. Her scholarship supports teacher education students at Shippensburg University where she taught for 30 years.
“Our first idea was to add to Brenda’s scholarship,” Peggy recounted, “but after thinking more about it, Harry decided that Todd deserved his own scholarship.”
“Establishing a scholarship in a person’s memory is a way to keep their legacy alive,” Harry said. “It also helps with the healing process to know that you are helping others.”
Like many in the extended family, Todd attended Shippensburg University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice in 1986. During his senior year, he was the US Army ROTC Cadet Battalion Commander. Todd then made the US Army his career, retiring as Lieutenant Colonel with more than 33 years of uniformed and civilian government experience.
In honor of that service, the LTC Todd M. Wheeler Memorial ROTC Scholarship will be awarded to an incoming full-time student enrolled in the ROTC program in 2021. “Todd truly left the world a better place than he found it,” Harry said, “and we hope the recipient of this scholarship will do the same.”
In addition to his military service, Todd volunteered at his church in Newville, serving in multiple leadership and teaching positions. He was also an Eagle Scout mentor, having earned this award from the Boy Scouts of America in 1980. “Todd’s loss will be felt throughout the communities he served,” Peggy said.
When their family members gathered for Christmas last year, Harry and Peggy shared that they had established a scholarship in Todd’s memory and suggested that for future Christmases, they could make a contribution to the scholarship instead of giving them gifts.
Make a gift to the LTC Todd M. Wheeler Memorial ROTC Scholarship