Dianna Dae Wheeler passed away on Saturday afternoon, March 11, 2023, in the company of her loving family. Dianna had recently celebrated her 80th birthday and 60th wedding anniversary.
Dianna Dae Eaton was born on December 26, 1942, in Sac County, Iowa. Dianna attended country schools near Wall Lake, IA, then attended school in Wall Lake (grades 6-12). Dianna graduated high school from Wall Lake High in 1961, then trained and graduated at Commercial Extension of Omaha in 1962. On February 16, 1963, Dianna became Mrs. Gary Wheeler at Wall Lake’s United Methodist Church. Children Brian and Renee followed, soon after.
Gary & Dianna lived an active life, with five states across which they called home. Until 1967, The Wheelers resided in West Des Moines, IA. From 1967-72, a cross-country stint to Mechanicsburg, PA occurred. From 1972-73, the Wheelers lived in Madison, WI, after which The Wheelers returned to Iowa, living in Urbandale until 1985. Following Brian’s and Renee’s graduation, the family home was moved to Gladstone, MO from 1985-90. After that, Gary and Dianna again lived in Madison until 1992. Beginning in 1992, The Wheelers returned their residency to Iowa (Sioux City). Ultimately, Gary and Dianna finally returned to the Des Moines area in 2004. Then, in 2017, Gary and Dianna moved into the Lodge of Ashworth in West Des Moines, to enjoy independent senior living.
As they moved about, Dianna worked a lifetime in secretarial services for, among others, LOOK Magazine and Iowa Heart Association in Des Moines, Weitz Companies in Kansas City, and finally with Davenport Properties in Sioux City, IA.
Dianna was often heard telling others that the reason she and her family moved so often was that “Gary couldn’t hold down a job.” It is that quick wit and caring humor that is most missed without Dianna.
The most rewarding part of Dianna’s well-traveled life was their varied groups of best friends. From Des Moines to Pennsylvania, from Wisconsin to Kansas City, from Sioux City to Nest Lake, and from Holiday Lake to Clearwater, and now The Lodge of Ashworth, there have been so many friendships that profoundly changed Gary’s and Dianna’s lives. For those friendships, our family is eternally grateful!
The Wheelers also played hard, as evidenced by years of vacationing and/or living near “The Lake”. The Wheeler/Brown weeklong reunion in Angola, IN was an annual affair from 1977-85. Then, there were the numerous trips to Spicer, MN for fishing with Gary’s parents in the 1980s. Ironically, Gary and Dianna acquired a trailer on Nest Lake some years later and lived there most summer weekends from 1995-2006. Each summer, Brian’s and Renee’s families would gather at Nest Lake for a week of fishing, tubing, and skiing. Even more important to Dianna was the annual grandkids’ vacation week to Nest Lake.
The grandchildren’s grandma spoiled them with the best PB&Js, smores, and homemade lemonade. Other grandchildren’s favorites included Gardettos, maraschino cherries, mini dill pickles, and Chex Mix. Grandma Dianna was also known as the world’s fiercest tubing boat driver.
Over the years, Gary and Dianna also traveled to be a part of their large extended family’s activities. Weddings and graduation visits were not uncommon and remain among their fondest lifetime of memories. Also, Gary and Dianna were dependable fans for their grandkids’ sporting events, and on more than one occasion, there would be a birthday cake celebration from the trunk of their Cadillac.
Later in life, Gary and Dianna became snowbirds and drove to Clearwater, FL for months of each year. Both wished they’d started that migration sooner in life, thanks to the many friends and memories made there.
Dianna was unafraid to try new adventures and meet new people. Proof of that includes Dianna’s overcoming an adult phobia of water to become an excellent slalom skier. Also, adult dance lessons with Gary made them the envy of many a dance floor. There was also a July trip to Canada to accompany the Wheeler men (without electricity and indoor plumbing). You could count Dianna in without question if it included laughs and excitement. Throughout life, Gary was Dianna’s batman, with the two of them a fearsome twosome for the entirety of their lives together.
Dianna was preceded in death by her father and mother (Lyle & Velma Eaton), a sister (Donna Reiter), and a brother (Dennis Eaton). Dianna is survived by her husband Gary, son Brian, daughter Renee (Kramer), and son-in-law Tim Kramer.
Dianna is also survived by her six loving grandchildren, including Karrah Coe (Kramer), Dustyn Wheeler, Taylor Wheeler, Kelsey Kramer, Kali Kramer and Hannah Wheeler. Dianna is also survived by sisters Nelda (Eaton) Leighter, Debbie (Eaton) Druivenga, and Becky (Eaton) Koessel. Dianna is survived by nineteen nieces and nephews, whom she enjoyed immensely along with their families, over the years.
Memorial services are tentatively scheduled for May 19th at Covenant Presbyterian Church, in West Des Moines, IA. Interment will follow at Wheatland Presbyterian Church in Breda, IA, at some date after the memorial service.