Roderick Wheeler, OFM
1907 – 1958
Fr. Roderick Wheeler, OFM, was born on Dec. 10, 1907 in Haverhill, Mass. He entered the novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., in 1927, professing temporary vows one year later. He made his solemn profession in 1931 and was ordained in 1934. He then spent six years abroad, studying at the Universities of Madrid and Lisbon from 1934 to 1940.
While a student at the University of Madrid in 1936, Fr. Roderick became chancellor of the American Embassy in Madrid during the Spanish Civil War. In this capacity, he arranged safe passage for 350 stranded American tourists, and saved the lives of many priests and sisters by listing them as American citizens. Fr. Roderick received his doctorate in Latin American history from the University of Madrid.
In 1940, he returned to the United States and was assigned to St. Bonaventure College, Allegany, N.Y., as a professor of Hispanic American studies from 1940 to 1943. Fr. Roderick was then named director of the newly established Academy of American Franciscan History in Bethesda, Md. He was also the editor of Americas, a quarterly review of inter-American cultural history.
Fr. Roderick was elected to the executive council of the American Catholic Historical Association, and in 1948 was named the winner of the Pan-American Award. In 1952, he returned to St. Bonaventure University as professor of Hispanic American history, and in 1956, was named head of the history department.
He died on Dec. 13, 1958 at St. Francis Hospital in Olean, N.Y. Fr. Roderick was 51 years old, a professed friar for 30 years and a priest for 24 years.