Published on July 27, 2016 by Mary Wimberley  
Ruric Wheeler

Longtime Samford University professor and administrator Ruric E. Wheeler died July 26, 2016.  He was 92.

Wheeler served Samford for 46 years. After joining the mathematics faculty in 1953, he served as chair of the math department and the division of natural sciences, dean of Howard College of Arts and Sciences, vice president for academic affairs and university professor. He retired from his final post as research professor of mathematics in 2009.

He wrote 25 college textbooks that have been used by more than one and a half million students. In 2002, he wrote a memoir, All Because of Polly, about his courtship and life with his wife, Joyce, who died in 2012.

Wheeler earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Kentucky University, and master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Kentucky. Prior to joining the Samford faculty, he taught mathematics at the University of Kentucky and statistics at Florida State University. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Force.

“In the loss of Dr. Ruric Wheeler, we celebrate the life and mourn the passing of a stalwart friend of Samford,” said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland. “Together with his wife, Joyce, the Wheeler family exemplified the selfless service so ingrained in the members of the Samford faculty and staff.

“Even as he maintained a demanding schedule with expanded administrative responsibilities, he never lost touch with his academic discipline and the cherished role of faculty. Thousands of us are grateful for his loyal, effective service,” Westmoreland said.

He is survived by his sons Ed (Claire) of Atlanta, Georgia, and Paul (Joy Gooch) of Nashville, Tennessee, five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be Saturday, July 30, at 2 p.m. at Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, with visitation at 1 p.m.

Memorials may be made to the Wheeler Scholarship Fund, Samford University, 800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, AL 35229.



Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.