There are a few people who I have met while on assignment that have touched my heart. Jim Wheeler was one of them. Before he retired as the golf pro at Pottawatomie Golf Course in St. Charles, he’d see me walk through the pro shop’s doors and the first thing he’d say was, “You’re not here to take my picture, are you?”
Most of the time, I was there to photograph the many events, high school practices or tournaments held at the golf course. But in January 2011, I was there just for him. It was the occasion of his retirement, and it was time for him to be photographed. He was cooperative, but I knew he did not like the spotlight on him.
Since that day in January, I have seen Jim at almost every St. Charles high school football and basketball game, always with a smile and a chat. He was there in the stands, usually the same spot every time. Cheering on “his kids.” He loved to talk about the current players and all of their accomplishments.
So it was with a heavy heart when I learned of Jim’s passing Tuesday. Jim was one-of-a-kind and will be so missed. I’m sure he’d also have something to say about his photo being in the newspaper again. Rest in peace, my friend.
– Sandy Bressner