September 29, 1932 - August 20, 2019
Renate Suess Wheeler passed away peacefully on August 20th, at age 86, surrounded by family and friends.
Renate was born in Cologne, Germany in September 1932 to Franz and Elizabeth Suess. She and her family fled to London, England in 1934 to escape the Nazi regime, where they lived through the Blitz.
After the war, she came to the United States to enroll in Columbia University's School of Journalism. While there, she met her first husband, Charles Grad, a naval officer and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.
During their marriage, she had two children, Philip and Whendi, and traveled extensively with the Navy, including a duty station in Subic Bay, The Philippines.
After settling in Los Angeles, Renate found her calling in real estate. She began her career in residential sales but quickly expanded into other real estate endeavors, including commercial real estate, and the ownership of multiple brokerage offices. The crowning achievement of her career was the development of the property at Kala Point.
In the late 1970s, she met and married Joseph F. Wheeler, the founder of Centrum, and gained three stepchildren: Joseph, Jeffery, and Michelle.
Renate and Joe were both active members of Port Townsend. Renate served on numerous committees and was an energetic fund-raiser for local organizations. Together Joe and Renate generously supported many aspects of this community, including Centrum, the Northwest Maritime Center, and Jefferson Healthcare hospital. Renate was a champion of Port Townsend, her adopted home that she dearly loved. Although she and Joe traveled extensively, in her eyes, there was no better place on earth than Port Townsend.
Renate felt strongly about politics and business, and shared her thoughts freely, but was most passionate about family and friends. She loved them intensely and relished their company over meals, traveling, or shared activities. She was also a loving and discerning supporter of the arts, sponsoring young Centrum artists, and helping guide Centrum's growth with her husband, Joe. Renate is survived by her sister, Elizabeth Dencker of Baden-Baden, Germany; her children and stepchildren, Philip Grad (Robyn) of Seattle, WA, Whendi Grad (Garnett Puett) of Holualoa, HI, Joseph Jr. (Leslie) of Olympia, WA, Jeffery Wheeler of Camano Island, WA, Michelle Blue (Ken) of Woodinville, WA; her grandchildren, Isobel, Harrison, Rose, Garnett IV, Sarah, Joseph L., Clare, Sara, Yosef, Nicole, and Alex; and, her only niece, Andrea.
The family is holding a private memorial service for Renate and requests donations to Centrum or the Jefferson Healthcare Foundation in her name.