Don Wheaton - a Legacy of Giving Back

The last week of 2011 marked the passing of one of Edmonton’s most well known citizens; a business giant, family man, community leader and dear friend of United Way. While many knew Don Wheaton most prominently for his start up of an iconic automobile dealership on Whyte Avenue, which evolved into a wide array of incredibly successful ventures; he was also a believer in giving back. This was a value he lived and nurtured at the office and at home -- a legacy that continues to change lives and build and strengthen our community.
I first met Don Wheaton in early spring of 1985. I and my colleagues were well aware of Don’s business success and I remember thinking how his tall stature matched his lengthy list of accomplishments and successes.  And while he was well known for his business acumen, what we saw that day was the caring, compassionate man who so willing gave of his time in support of our community – qualities we saw time after time, and that inspired and motivated our entire team.
As dedicated as he was to building great businesses, to nurturing a healthy family and to living life to the fullest, you could always count on Don to have time for you. His contribution to United Way as volunteer Campaign Chair in 1985, Campaign Cabinet member from 1986 to 2004, and member of the Board of Directors from 1985 to 1987 was significant. His approach was simple – he didn’t expect anybody to do anything he wasn’t prepared to do himself. He was all in, doing the work and leading the way.
Don believed in the importance of giving back to those less fortunate and actively worked to instil this belief in others. It is a belief that continues to make a positive impact in our community and is most evident in the three generations of Wheatons who have donated their time, funds and voices to United Way for more than 25 years. His grandson, Don C. Wheaton III, was part of the 2011 Major Donor Cabinet; and his daughter-in-law Jadeene Wheaton, who is married to his son Will Wheaton, serves as a United Way cabinet member-at-large. She is a mother of five, community volunteer and encourages her children to get involved.
The generosity of Don Wheaton Sr. transcends generations and continues to inspire us all. Don will be remembered, with incredible fondness and with the utmost respect for his generous gift of self to United Way and to our community. Farewell – and thank you, Don.
Anne Smith, President & CEO, United Way of the Alberta Capital Region