Billy Jo “Bill” Wheat

February 22, 1927 ~ May 2, 2022 (age 95)


Billy Jo “Bill” Wheat, 95, of Bicknell passed away on Monday, May 2, 2022.

Bill was born on February 22, 1927 in Bicknell at 711 N. Main where he lived at the time of his passing.

Bill was a 1944 graduate of Bicknell High School and attended Tri-State College (now Trine University) in Northeast Indiana. During and after high school, and while attending college, he worked at his grandfather’s two businesses, Bicknell Ice Co. (later called Atkinson Ice) and Bicknell Coal Co. During the Korean War, he served in the United States Army, holding a top secret position at the Pentagon.

Bill was also a pioneer of television, working at WTTV Channel 4 in Bloomington from 1953 until 1957. After working at WTTV, he went on to work at two TV stations in Ft. Wayne, helping bring one of them on the air.

In the early 1960s he helped to start and manage the Bicknell bowling alley, which was across Franklin street from the current library. He later managed the Vincennes bowling alley. From the mid 1960s until his retirement in the late 1980s, he worked as a maintenance and safety foreman at Superior Essex Wire Company in Vincennes. Bill also served as a volunteer fireman with Bicknell in the 1960s, and was an instructor and Board Member with the Indiana Fire Instructors Association in the 1980s and 1990s.

For many years, Bill wrote a column called “I Witness” for the local newspaper which contained his musings and reflections on any number of topics. For nearly 75 years, Santa Claus could always be seen at Christmas time at his home on N. Main in Bicknell. For most of that period, Santa was on the roof preparing to come down the chimney. When Santa got older, he relocated to a ladder on the front porch.

When Bill’s mother had a stroke in 1965, he was a devoted son who stayed by her side and helped her until her passing in 1994. Bill loved to travel around the country and visited many places in all 48 contiguous states, often accompanied by his Mother.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Brinton Denzil Wheat and Esther Lucille (Atkinson) Wheat and his sister, Judith Ann (Wheat) Fox.

Services will be private however, the family welcomes condolences to be left at and Son McClure-Utt Funeral Homes, Bicknell Chapel is honored to be entrusted with the arrangements of Mr. Wheat. 


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