Thursday, November 15, 2012


The first time I met Joe Frank Wheeler, I had no idea it was him.  It was my birthday and I sojourned up to the announcer's box at the Dilla Stadium...I wanted to see what it looked like.  He was the voice of the Amarillo Dillas....and he kind of gave me this look like what are you doing up here?

Months later, I saw Joe Frank's picture on the front cover of the Amarillo Globe News
He had suffered a heart attack at the age of 40 but was expected to recover

Years later, I took the job as the Chamber of Commerce EVP
and that's when I really met Joe Frank.  He had been with the Borger Chamber for many years and was a well known personality all over the state of Texas and beyond.

At our annual Chamber Banquet that year I asked him to be our keynote speaker...a thing he dearly loved.

He told the story of playing Candy Land with his young daughter Marney.

"I was winning and I had no qualms about beating a 7 year old girl.  She needed to know how to win and how to lose.  I drew the double purple card and jumped passed her.  I am a competitive person and I was in this game to win.  I drew another card and scooted over the lollipop bridge.  Finally, I drew the card that pushed me into the zone...the winner's spot.  I shouted out to her...I WON! I WON!!!

But Marney...sweetly...quietly... kept drawing cards.
As I watched her draw one card after another and keep moving her token closer to the finish line,
 I finally said
Marney?  What are you doing?  I beat you.  Fair and square.  I have already won."

And he concluded with these words...

"she looked up at me with her happy big brown eyes and said...

I know dad...but I want to win too."

He became one of my closest friends.  He helped me choose my wedding dress when I married Brian.
His phone number is still in my speed dial.
I thought of him today.

One of the most dynamic people I have ever met.  I saw him often speak with kindness and mercy and enthusiasm to everyone he came across.  To the checkout clerk at Lowes...
"Hey...what is your favorite part of this job?"  
He knew how to connect and to draw them bring out some kind of something in brighten their make them feel special.

He died on my birthday

Joe Frank Wheeler, 53, of Amarillo died Monday, June 15, 2009.

Dillas' PA announcer dies at stadium He collapses hours before home opener

Amarillo firefighters attend to Dillas announcer Joe Frank Wheeler, 53, on Monday at the press box at Amarillo National Bank Dilla Villa. Police say Wheeler suffered a heart attack while working on sound equipment.

The longtime announcer for the Amarillo Dillas collapsed and died Monday just hours before the team's home opener.

Joe Frank Wheeler, 53, died at the press box of the Amarillo National Bank Dilla Villa of an apparent  heart attack. 

According to police, Wheeler was working on the sound system with other employees when he went down to one knee and then fell over. Amarillo police, firefighters and paramedics responded to the stadium around 3 p.m. 

Joe Frank...I thought of you today


It's All Connected said...

The story of the boardgame is wonderful. It may take some of us a little longer but, if the faster ones show some patience, we can all win! How lucky you were to have him for a friend. ~ Maureen

Anonymous said...

what a wonderful tribute! My gosh , too young to die!

Anita @ Cedar Hill Ranch said...

Okay that is the best story about how the daughter wanted to win too!! That is just darling.

Leslie said...

Oh Gina .. Very sad. You are fortunate to have known him .

CandyLand was my favorite board game as a child. I love the comment.."I want to win too ". Priceless


Laura said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your friend.

What a beautiful post.