UC Berkeley accounting professor emeritus John Wheeler dies at 92

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Professor emeritus of accounting John Wheeler, who worked at the Haas School of Business, previously called the UC Berkeley School of Business Administration, died at Salem Lutheran Home in Oakland on Oct. 21. He was 92.

Wheeler began his career at UC Berkeley in 1954, teaching managerial accounting as a professor of business administration. During his time at the School of Business Administration, he also served as an associate dean and a director of summer sessions.

Wheeler came to UC Berkeley after a brief teaching career at the University of Minnesota, where he received his bachelor’s degree in business administration. He received his doctorate in industrial economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

During his time at MIT, Wheeler married his wife of 67 years, Beatrice. They had three children in Minnesota before moving to Berkeley for Wheeler’s job.

At UC Berkeley, Wheeler introduced the idea of using computer-based business games and simulation exercises for graduate business education. His research was focused on preparing students for careers in accounting.

Wheeler was the chair for the campus’s Center for Research in Management Sciences from 1966 to 1968 and the chair of the Accounting Group and director of the Professional Accounting Program from 1974 to 1978. He served as the director of the doctoral program at the business school from 1968 to 1969.

“John Wheeler was extremely active in business school affairs,” said professor emeritus of accounting Alan Cerf in an email. “He developed a core course for the MBAs which integrated economics, finance, and accounting.”

Wheeler’s daughter, Mary Wheeler, said that in some ways, her father’s work carried over to his personal life. She said Wheeler had a “system for everything.” At home, he would link together each child’s chores, allowance and age.

“I realize at an early age he taught me the difference between need and want,” she said. “I didn’t realize until I was an adult that I was taught that and that (it) was an economic principle.”

She described Wheeler as a good father and, because of his quiet and organized demeanor, a “stable influence” both at work and at home.

Because Wheeler had four children, Mary Wheeler said, she and her siblings didn’t spend much time with him individually. She recalls fond memories of going Christmas shopping with him every year, however. She said he would take each sibling out separately.

“It was just our night with him,” she said. “The idea was we could get something for our mother, but it was our special time alone with him.”

Wheeler is survived by his wife, Beatrice; four children, Mary, James, Ginny and Robert; three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The family plans to hold a private memorial service for Wheeler.

Contact Tahmina Achekzai at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @tahminachekzai.