| Xenia Lee (Fitz Randolph) Wheeler, 87, formerly of Ashaway and Westerly and beloved wife of the Rev. Edgar F. Wheeler, died peacefully on Feb. 12, 2016, of natural causes at the home of her daughter, Helen, in Mesa, AZ. She was born the second of seven children, Feb. 28, 1928, to the late Ashby and Ruth Content (Bond) Fitz Randolph in Salem, WV, delivered by her mother’s Aunt Xenia, one of the earliest woman doctors in the United States.
She grew up in Jarvisville, WV, within walking distance of the one-room school she first attended at age five, taught by her father. She graduated from Bristol WV High School in 1945 and attended Salem College.
Since childhood Xenia Lee was pleased to share her time, talents and compassion with others. At age ten, during her father’s prolonged illness, she assumed many of the housekeeping and child rearing duties so that her mother could attend to Ashby. Later she spent extended periods of time living with aunts and uncles who needed help when a new baby arrived or someone was ill. By the time she married Edgar on Aug. 10, 1945, in Middle Island, WV, Xenia Lee was well prepared to mother eleven children as well as assume the duties of a pastor’s wife and helpmate.
Xenia Lee loved teaching children about Jesus, encouraging Bible memorization and organizing dramatic skits for them to enact. She enjoyed inviting guests home for dinner after Sabbath worship, and her homemade rolls were legendary.
Daily journaling was a ritual she maintained for most of her life, and those journals are peppered with lists of people for whom she prayed, sometimes for years. She was a dedicated letter, and later e-mail, writer who worked to maintain relationships and foster family connections–some blood connections, others not, but each important. Most of her correspondence included praise and thanksgiving for God’s care and mercy.
Second to her Savior, Edgar had first place in her heart and priorities. She was always his encourager and the admirer of all his art and writing, but she was a serious competitor when they played games, which they did most days in later years.
Her family and friends will miss her sweet spirit, her ready smile, her joyful laugh, but most of all her unconditional love and presence. It is their comfort, though, that she is in the presence and care of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
She is survived by her husband of over 70 years, Edgar Francis Wheeler; eleven children: Annita Marie Parmelee of Savannah, GA, Robert Edgar Wheeler of North Platte, NE, Ruth Frances Thorpe of Westerly, Dr. Richard Lee Wheeler and Ernest Paul Wheeler, both of Pinnacle, NC, Helen Faith Brannon of Mesa, AZ, Leon Ashby Wheeler of Alburg, VT, William Raymond Wheeler of Elizabeth, CO, Dr. Catherine Jeanne Wheeler of Mesa, AZ, Noelle Fontaine Wheeler of Tempe AZ, and Esther Hope Palmer of Williston, VT.; three siblings, Ashby Bond Fitz Randolph, Clarksburg, WV, Elsie Mae Lewis Bottoms, Wellsville, NY, and Cleo Elizabeth Boyd, New Enterprise, PA; 35 grandchildren, 41 great-grandchildren, and many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends. She was pre-deceased by two great-grandsons, Jack Josiah Wheeler and Joseph William Brannon, and three siblings, Edna Ruth Richards, Alois Edmund Fitz Randolph and Rex Main Fitz Randolph.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, at the First Hopkinson Seventh Day Baptist Church, Church St., Ashaway, with Rev. David Stall officiating. Burial will follow in the First Hopkinton Cemetery, Ashaway. Friends may call on Friday, Feb. 26, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Buckler-Johnston Funeral Home, 121 Main St., Westerly. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in her name may be made to the Seventh Day Baptist Missionary Society, 19 Hillside Ave., Ashaway, RI 02804.