Otto Wheeley

Obituary of Otto Wheeley

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Otto Wheeley, age 90, of Johnson City, TN and formerly of Lafayette, TN passed away, May 21, 2012. Funeral services for Otto Wheeley were conducted Thursday, May 24th at 11 am from the Chapel of Alexander Funeral Home in Lafayette, TN with Elder Jason Wheeley and Stephen Wheeley officiating. Dan Wheeley and Ross Wheeley served as Honorary Pallbearers. Jimmy Wheeley, Randy Wheeley, Jon Wheeley, Jeff Wheeley, Ferrell Meador, and Chip Gose served as Active Pallbearers. Interment followed in the Macon County Memorial Gardens. Benton Otto Wheeley, better known as Otto, was born in Macon County, Tennessee on July 25, 1921 to the late John Henry Wheeley and Georgia Jenkins Wheeley. He was one of seven children born to this union. Otto grew up in the Long Creek Community of Macon County. After graduating, he continued his education at Western Kentucky University before transferring to the University of Tennessee where he graduated in 1943 with a Bachelor Degree in Science. Otto accepted the first job offer that came his way with Koppers INC. in Pittsburgh, PA. There he started as a chemical engineer making material for the war effort and left as Deputy chair-man and Senior Manager. Otto retired at age 62 in 1984. He retired from Koppers to help launch new companies out of research developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and North Carolina's Research Triangle. His goal was to focus on nurturing entrepreneurs in East Tennessee. Otto continued this venture capitalist effort for 20 plus years. Otto was a very accomplished Business man receiving many awards during his life time. To name a few; in 1973 he was named the National Account Marketing Association's; "Marketing Man of The Year." He received an honorary law degree from Alderson-Broaddus College in Phillipi, West Virginia and a scholarship to the Brookings Institute in 1961. He was added to the University of Tennessee's Outstanding Engineer Alumnus in 1976 and again 1987. He was recognized as an American Baptist Men of Pennsylvania/Delaware, Layman of the Year in 1973 and Coopers and Lybrand Entrepreneurial Business Support Award in 1988. Then in 2005, Otto received the "UT Volunteer of The Year" award. His list of accolades are too numerous to mention them all. Otto was a dedicated Christian man, laboring in his Church and his Community. He served on the Board of Directors of Several Christian Colleges including the Southern Theological Seminary School in Bowling Green, KY and Belmont University in Nashville, TN. Otto was also a Sunday School Teacher at Memorial Baptist Church in Crossville where he and his wife attended until they moved to Johnson City to be nearer to their son. Otto loved spending time with his family and he has left behind a great legacy that speaks highly of himself and his dedication to his God, his family, and his community. On Monday, May 21 the Lord called an end to his life here on earth, and he carried him to his eternal home in Heaven. Otto is survived by; Wife, Kathleen Wilson Wheeley of Johnson City, TN, Daughter, Nancy Wheeley of Columbus, MS, Sons, Ben (Caren) Wheeley of Jamestown, TN, Stephen (Judy) Wheeley of Watertown, TN, and Robert (Marion) Wheeley of Johnson City, TN, Grandchildren, Ross (Barbara)Wheeley of Watertown, TN, and Daniel(Sharon) Wheeley of Johnson City, TN, Great-grandchildren, Allison and Jacob Wheeley of Watertown, TN, and Cody and Elizabeth Wheeley of Johnson City, TN, and several nieces and nephews.