Arlene (Lillie Rose) Robbins Wheeler


When someone passes from this life, there should be something more to the memory of that life than the usual template that simply says, born here, died there. Here is how some of us remember the remarkable person from Durango’s class of 1966 known as Arlene Robbins Wheeler.
Born Feb. 7, 1947, in Grand Junction, Colo., to William Robbins and Maria (Clouse) Robbins — a little girl who would become one of Durango’s own. Arlene was not only a talented musician, but also a gifted artist who loved to paint and design exquisite jewelry.
As Arlene grew to adulthood, she developed a keen sense of compassion. Her unique gift allowed her to spend time with those suffering from depression. She was simply always available for long talks, long walks, gentle hugs and firm holding of hands — something that depressed individuals need in today’s world.
She knew her strengths and decided she could serve best by becoming a nurse. Sometimes life gets in the way and her thoughts of graduating from high school and pursuing a degree in nursing were put on the back burner when she met and married after her junior year at DHS.
She married one Terry Wheeler in haste and became the mother of four beautiful children while she was hardly more than a child herself. She left high school and that nursing goal in the rearview mirror as her husband moved their family from place to place frequently. There would always be time, she thought, but time and opportunity never came for her.
Arlene passed peacefully at her home in Monroe, Mich., on Jan. 26 in the company of her longtime companion, John Sullivan. She had been ill for several years.
Welcoming her to her heavenly home is especially her little sister Billie Jean Robbins. Releasing her from her earthly bonds are her brothers, Neil and Joe; her sisters, Scootie and Juanita; her children, Teresa Rene LaFontaine, Teri Lynn Wheeler Hellman III, Michael Wheeler and Matthew Wheeler; along with grandchildren Robert Pitchford, Sean Myers, Rhiannon Hellman, Samantha, Shania, Jacob, Landon and Logan Wheeler.
As a celebration of life for Arlene, please give some quality time to a person in need — listen to that person, walk with that person, hug them, hold their hand, encourage them to lead their best life — pay Arlene’s youthful legacy forward.