John Wheat, chartering member of Beta Omicron Chapter, passes to chapter eternal

John Henry Wheat, a chartering member of the Beta Omicron Chapter of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity at Northwestern State University, passed away on Monday, April 28, 2018 in Garland, Texas. He was 85 years old.

He is survived by his wife Beverly and two sons.

Wheat, a Corporal in the United State Army, was buried Wednesday, May 2, 2018, in a private ceremony at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery. After graduating from Northwestern State University, he went on to a successful career in Engineering consulting.

‘Buck’ Wheat, as he was fondly nicknamed by his chapter brothers, was the 29th initiate and final member of the the group that chartered the Beta Omicron Chapter on September 21, 1956. During his time at Northwestern State University, Wheat served as warden and 1958 archon of the Beta Omicron Chapter. He was elected to terms as president and vice president of the NSU Interfraternity Council and was also involved in ROTC.

Committed to lifelong brotherhood in Pi Kappa Phi, Wheat remained involved in the Beta Omicron Alumni Chapter, attending reunions and designing mementos and commemorative gifts for attendees. In 2006, he worked closely with a clock company to custom design wrought iron clock erected in the NSU Alumni Plaza to commemorate 50 years of Pi Kappa Phi at Northwestern. He also served as a mentor to student members, helping recharter the Beta Omicron Chapter in 2000.

Several years ago, he reflected on that experience and the pride that has developed in the time since.

“Three of us went back to Natchitoches when we heard that the chapter was in the process of re-chartering.  We did not know any of the young men but saw the Pi Kap banner and introduced ourselves. The young men  responded the way I would if Thomas Jefferson suddenly came to my house and introduced himself. They seemed in awe. I am not easily impressed with young men of this generation, but I can truthfully say I was just as much in awe of them. We met a group of young men that immediately earned our respect. I had not heard as many “Yes Sirs” and “No Sirs” in a long time.”

“I could not have been more proud if these young men than if they had been my sons, or maybe chronologically, my grandsons. This example of character, discipline and humility has continued up to the current active members that I have met. I am very content in knowing that my chapter is is very good hands, and for that I am forever thankful. To these young men let me say to you that the fun has just begun. Fifty three years after the original charter, our group is still enjoying the company of our brothers. I am sure you will all be successful in whatever career you choose, you will have families to raise, but stay in touch [because] the best is yet to come.”

– John “Buck” Wheat
February 2009

Fellow chartering member Ron Knott represented the Beta Omicron Alumni Chapter at Wheat’s funeral. He shared these words with the family.

“I am here today to represent our Fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, Jesus Christ, and myself. John (Buck) Wheat was a charter member of the Fraternity in 1956. John had just returned from a tour of duty in Germany as an MP and had had a lot of stories that we liked to listen to.

He was a natural leader and took us, freshmen, just out of high school, under his wing to help guide us through that time. John was such an awesome counselor that he was elected president of the Fraternity the second year that he was a member. Everybody on campus loved “Buck” Wheat.

After graduating from college my brother, Roland, and I went in partners with Buck on an automatic test grader that was well ahead of its time. In fact, it was so far advanced, due to Buck’s engineering ability, that the local teachers did not understand it and would not purchase the machine. Dale told me today that some companies are now using Buck’s invention. I have never worked with a more honest partner, with the integrity as “Buck” Wheat.

I told the family that Buck Wheat is not dead. In fact, he is more alive than he has ever been. The body returns to dust, but our soul returns to God who created it. The soul never dies. There is no such thing as soul sleep as some teach. Buck is alive with Jesus.

I know Buck is a believer because one of the last ventures we did together was to meet at Parkland Hospital a few years back and pray for Crippen when he was in a terrible auto accident. In fact we met several times to pray for our brother Crippen. So, if you will read the last three chapters of Revelation you will find Buck riding a white horse, just behind Jesus, to attack the devil on the last day. Then the city of Jesus will reside on the new earth; 1500 miles in length, width, and height (12,000) furlongs. That is big! The family agreed.”

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