Bynum Wheeler was politically active, loved reading

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 | 7:36 p.m. CST; updated 9:45 p.m. CST, Wednesday, February 13, 2013

COLUMBIA — Bynum Wheeler’s love of the arts shone through his creative spirit.

“He always dressed up for Halloween, usually as something that involved a black cape,” said Carol Harl, his companion of 30 years.

Mr. Wheeler enjoyed acting, target shooting and photography. He was an animal lover and an avid reader. 

Ayn Rand’s, "Atlas Shrugged," was the basis for a lot of his political thinking, Harl said.

Mr. Wheeler died Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, from complications of pneumonia. He was 70.

Mr. Wheeler was a co-founder of the local Libertarian Party and wrote the party’s constitution.

“He would have been the James Madison of the party,” Mitch Moore, Wheeler's political colleague, said. 

He was actively involved in organizing meetings, making badges, pamphlets and agendas.

“We affectionately called him 'papa bear,'” Moore said. 

Mr. Wheeler was born Nov. 13, 1942, in Carthage to Merle McCray and Albert Wheeler.

As a boy he loved to play cowboys and Indians, Harl said.

After graduating high school in Carthage, Mr. Wheeler earned a bachelor's of arts degree in speech and drama in 1964 from MU and a master's of arts in 1968. As an undergraduate he was a member the fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon.

Mr. Wheeler worked for the Columbia Police Department for more than 20 years. When retired police chief Randy Boehn first started working for the department in 1976, Mr. Wheeler was a range officer.

“He would run officers through their firearms qualification course, which is unusual for a civilian employee. It is usually a sworn police officer who does that,” Boehn said.

Mr. Wheeler recreationally shot targets at Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club in Hallsville and enjoyed shooting with giant water guns, Harl said.

His parents and a half-brother died earlier.

Mr. Wheeler’s memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at the Chapel at the University Hospital.

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