Nathan Elder Wheat, age 84, of Nixon, peacefully entered eternal rest on Friday evening, Nov. 27, 2020. He was at his childhood home surrounded by his family. Nathan was born on March 10, 1936 at Dr. Elder’s Crestview Hospital in Nixon to Jack Madison and Florine (Elder) Wheat. Nathan lived a very blessed, happy life; born and raised in Nixon, he graduated from Nixon High School in 1954. He graduated from Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) in 1958 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture.
He married his high school sweetheart, Dixell Hewell, at the First Baptist Church in Nixon on December 7, 1957. He soon joined the United States Army, and he and Dixell moved to Augusta, Georgia where he was stationed at Fort Gordon. After proudly serving in our military, with babies in tow, they returned home to Nixon where he began his teaching career and continued his family’s ranching tradition.
As an educator, Mr. Wheat touched the lives of so many in the Nixon and Smiley communities. He followed in his grandmother’s and mother’s footsteps as teacher, principal, bus driver, and driver’s education teacher. Stories tell that his students loaded many tractor parts and farm implements in the trunk of the driver’s ed car! Nathan and Dixell enjoyed working with school groups and chaperoned countless Senior Trips. Oh, the stories they have! Being honored as “Teacher of the Year” in 1992, he was the epitome of a teacher and would use any opportunity to share his knowledge and love of learning.
Saying Nathan was very involved in his community is truly an understatement. He believed in kindness, service, and paying-it-forward. Over the years, he dedicated his time and effort to numerous organizations including, but not limited to, the Nixon Boy Scout Troop, Nixon Mahan-Patteson American Legion Post 547, Nixon-Smiley EMS, Feather Fest, Nixon Lions Club, and Nixon-Smiley Livestock Show. Raised in the First Baptist Church of Nixon, he also dedicated many hours to the First United Methodist Church of Nixon, where his family attended. He was honored as “Citizen of the Year” in 1988.
Nathan continued his grandfather’s and father’s legacy with membership in the Nixon Masonic Lodge, and commitment to the San Marcos Commandery and the Alzafar Shrine, earning his 50 year pin from the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine in 2011. In 1998, he received the Golden Trowel award from The Grand Lodge of Texas A.F. and A.M.
As a member of the Texas Tech Alumni Association, Nathan loved his Red Raiders and continued trips back to Lubbock for tailgate parties, football games, and reunions with his “Third Floor East Sneed Hall” gang, even including their 50th reunion in 2008. Floating the Frio River (in his jeans and black socks!) and fishing along the Texas Coast were lifelong treasured happenings with family and friends.
Nathan became a Life Member (#466) of the San Antonio Livestock Show in 1948, and he supported this organization up until the weekend before his passing. He was a tireless member of S.A.L.E. Trail Ride Committee, was chosen Committeeman of the Year in 2006, and selected as an Honorary Director in 2012.
Endless, wonderful memories were made spending time with his trailride family, extending across Central and South Texas. Innovatively converting a stock trailer to a cook trailer, with all amenities possible, Nathan became the one everyone depended on for a hot cup of coffee, meals along the trail, benefits, and cook-offs. Nathan was a charter member of the Cross Country Trail Riders of Nixon, a member of the Sandhills Trail Drivers of La Vernia, the S.A.L.E. Trail Ride Association, and a Lifetime Director of the Old Chisholm Trail Drivers Association.
Nathan is preceded in death by his parents, his younger brother, Michael Cassidy “Mike” Wheat, and his sister-in-law, Sue Wheat.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Dixell; son, Nathan E. Wheat, II and wife Renee; daughter, Janna Dixell Wheat; daughter, Jacilyn Hewell Wheat; grandchildren Katelyn Sorell, Erin Dixell Ronshausen and husband Shawn, and Madison Jayd Holmes; sister-in-law, Linda Hewell Piland; nieces, nephews, cousins, and many, many friends.
He may have had many names… Nathan, Mr. Wheat, Flattop, Pa, and even Santa Clause… but Nathan was undoubtedly one-of-a-kind and will be missed by so many. In retirement, one of his favorite things was to sit and watch it rain while enjoying a cold Lone Star Light. So, the next time you see droplets from the heavens, raise your glass and remember him with a grin!
The family plans to have a memorial service at a later time. As Nathan had a giving heart, the family has established a memorial account at Third Coast Bank for contributions in lieu of flowers. All contributions will be given back to the Nixon and Smiley communities in his honor.