Emily Ann Wheeler (nee Zitzler), 47, died peacefully in her home at 1901 Courtyard Dr., #E, Capitola in her husband's arms in the early hours of the morning, Wednesday, May 28, 2014 after a two and a half year battle with stage 4 colon cancer.
Emily was born April 20, 1967 in Andrew Kaul Memorial Hospital in St. Marys to Deborah and Ralph Zitzler. When Emily was young, the family moved to southern California and eventually moved to San Jose in northern California.
Emily completed her elementary education at St. Lucy’s School in Campbell. She graduated with honors from St. Francis High School in Mountain View, Class of 1985.
Emily started her college career at Penn State University. Her sophomore year she transferred to University of San Francisco. She received her undergraduate degree from San Jose State University. In 1988 as part of her undergraduate studies for her degree in English literature, Emily traveled to Bath in the United Kingdom, where she would meet her future husband, Andrew Wheeler.
After only being together for six weeks, they became engaged in Paris on her 21st birthday, and after a long-term transatlantic relationship, were married in the Love Chapel, Lake Tahoe, Nev. on April 3, 1990. Andrew moved permanently to California on Sept. 5, 1990. In 1997, Emily and Andrew moved from San Jose, to their current home in Capitola, whereupon they remained married until her death on May 28, 2014.
Emily’s corporate working life revolved around payroll and human resources, working as a client services supervisor at PayChex in San Jose. Following their relocation to Capitola, Emily worked as a payroll manager at SCO in Santa Cruz until SCO’s acquisition. Emily became the training manager at PayCycle in Palo Alto. For the final nine years of her life Emily enjoyed working as senior human resources specialist at Bay Federal Credit Union in Capitola.
Emily’s passion was teaching. This was her gift and what she truly loved to do.
In 1995, Emily earned her master's degree in British and Irish literature from San Jose State University, California. Emily’s thesis would win the English departments Outstanding Thesis Award for 1995, and was runner-up for the same award in the College of Arts and Humanities
In January, 2001, Emily would become an adjunct English instructor teaching English literature, college composition, and critical thinking. Emily taught both online and in the classroom onsite at Cabrillo College in Aptos.
Emily had many diverse interests, which included writing fiction, horseback riding, motorcycle racing (MotoGP), Formula 1 auto racing as well as a love of fine art and European travel. Emily also loved food, and also loved to cook, and up until she started chemotherapy was a huge wine enthusiast. Emily loved the outdoors and was an accomplished horsewoman, having ridden since age 6. She loved her pets and enjoyed walking their German Shepherd Thor, and cuddling with their little brown cat Widget. Emily also loved music.
Emily is survived by her husband of 24 years, Andrew Wheeler; her mother, Deborah, and stepfather Michael Gozzo; her father, Ralph Zitzler, and his wife Sharron; her aunt and uncle, Carol and Terry Gavazzi, as well as her cousin Steve Gavazzi; her paternal aunt and uncle, Eileen and John Quatroche; and cousins Tony and Tom Quatroche, and Paula, Steve, Pam, Bridget, Susan and Annie Zitzler.
She was preceded in death by her maternal grandparents, John and Louise Henry; paternal grandparents Joseph and Leona Zitzler; her aunts, Marion, Martha Zitzler, and uncle Luke Zitzler.
A Celebration of the Life of Emily Wheeler was held at Saturday, June 7 at 11 a.m. at Benito and Azzaro, Pacific Gardens Chapel, 1050 Cayuga St., Santa Cruz, Calif.
For those wanting to send a contribution in honor of Emily, donations in lieu of flowers should be sent to The Southern California German Shepherd Rescue (http://www.socalrescue.org/donate ).
The family wishes to especially acknowledge Emily’s oncologist, Dr. Yen, along with the oncology nurses Miah and Deborah, and also the staff at the Central Coast Oncology and Hematology, and the staff and nurses of the oncology ward at Dominican Hospital, Santa Cruz and the caregivers from Care From The Heart.
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." – Maya Angelou.
The last words Emily spoke to her soul mate and husband, Andrew late Tuesday evening, were "Don’t worry, we’ll both be OK… OK?"