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Obituary: Wheeler, Elizabeth (Schaefer) “Betty”

Age 87

WHEELER, Elizabeth (Schaefer) “Betty” Died peacefully, sur-rounded by her family, on March 17, 2013. Born in Portland, Oregon to William and Gilberta Schaefer on November 29, 1925. Graduated high school from St. Mary’s Academy in Portland. Betty attended the University of Oregon and subsequently the University of Washington, majoring in art. She was active in the Pi Beta Phi sorority. She married Dr. John Joseph Murphy in October 1949. They had two children, Dr. William S. Murphy of Spokane and Dr. Margueritte S. Murphy of Rochester, NY. Dr. John J. Murphy was an active internist at the Providence Medical Center in Portland until his death in September 1969. Betty was president of the hospital’s Women’s Auxiliary. Betty subsequently married a childhood friend, Coleman H. Wheeler Jr. They resided in Portland and Santa Barbara, California. Betty moved to Spokane after Coleman’s death in July 1982. In Spokane Betty became deeply involved at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes in the parish community and supported the church generously. She was very proud of her work with Monsignor James Ribble on the Elevator Pavilion and West Portico at the Cathedral, dedicated to the memory of Coleman H. Wheeler, Jr. in 1997, and the Millennium bronze door project, dedicated to the memory of Dr. John Joseph Murphy, completed in the year 2000. She also honored the Hispanic community of the diocese by donating the mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the east transept shrine in the Cathedral. She was very generous in many philanthropic efforts supporting those in need through charitable organizations and college tuition support. Her support of Catholic Charities made possible the construction of a chapel and an elevator in the House of Charity that serves homeless men in the community. She supported the Immaculate Heart Retreat House and its outreach programs for the poor, the Sisters of the Holy Names in their retirement, and the Sisters of Mary Mother of the Church in their health insurance needs. As a result of her deep commitment to her Catholic faith, she was elected to the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. Her devotion was recognized, too, by an award from Pope John Paul II in 2000. She loved music and was an active supporter of the Spokane Symphony including the renovation of the Fox Theater; the balcony is named for her. She was a member of Waverly Country Club and the Town Club in Portland, Oregon, and the Spokane Club and Manito Country Club in Spokane. She loved to travel to Europe, taking several cruises. Finally, family meant everything to her; she was a loving and devoted wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who will be deeply missed. She is preceded in death by her husbands Dr. John J. Murphy and Coleman H. Wheeler, Jr. and her sister Marian Schaefer Pearson. She is survived by her son Dr. William S. Murphy (Mary) and their two daughters Jennifer Bachhuber (Michael) and Melissa Murphy. There are two great-granddaughters. Also surviving is her daughter Dr. Margueritte S. Murphy (Dr. Brian Cooper) and their children Philip Cooper and Celia Cooper. Remembrances to Catholic Charities of Spokane and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes. Rosary on Sunday, March 24, at 7 pm at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes. Funeral mass on Monday, March 25, at 12 pm, also at the Cathedral. There will be a second funeral mass at St. Thomas More Church in Portland, Oregon at 11 am on Wednesday, March 27, with interment to follow at Mount Calvary Cemetery. Please visit Betty’s online tribute at, and leave a message of condolence. Arrangements entrusted to: