Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wheatie Sealey, Coach, Teacher, Mite

Charles Drew "C.D." Sealey died December 11, 2010 at age 87. He was known to his Masonic Home family as "Wheatie" because when he first came to the orphanage right after he had turned six, he took on the challenge of seeing who could eat the most bowls of cereal and he won, acquiring his nickname from thenceforth. He ate nine bowls.

When his father, a Master Mason, died, Wheatie was taken to The Masonic Home and School to be raised and educated. He was one of the youngest children there, as you couldn't enter The Home until age five. It was 1929 at the height of the Depression and he was typical of many kids who entered the home at that time when their fathers died and their mothers could no longer support their children.

Wheatie had vivid memories of entering the home. "I saw all the tall buildings. I couldn't imagine what kind of place that was, ...what kind of place I was getting into," he said. "Everyone had a big kid pal when you got there." They were protectors and disciplinarians. It was helpful to a "new kid" to be taken under the arm of an older "protector". The big kid pals became like older brothers, looking out for the younger boys and teaching them. This concept carried over to the Milk Slimes, a work chore group that Wheatie belonged to, where bigger boys initiated the younger boys who came of age to join to group who milked the cows that provided the fresh dairy products for the children. The Home Kids became like family to one another.

Mike Barr, one of the principals of 12 Productions developing the story into the movie, sat by Mighty Mite Miller Moseley at the funeral. "When his three descendants spoke to those gathered, about 75 percent of what they talked about was Sealey's time at The Home and its impact on his life," Barr said. "His daughter said that his children had hundreds of aunts and uncles -- Sealey's non-blood siblings from The Home. He was proud of his time there, always talked about it, how it shaped him and how Rusty Russell influenced him." Barr said 20 percent of the tributes given were about Sealey's years spent as a coach and there were quite a number of his players there.

H.N. "Rusty" Russell came to the home in 1927 as a teacher and administrator and he started the football program right away. Wheatie was pulled right into the football program and was a Little Mite and later part of the famous Mighty Mite teams from 1937 - 1940, that made the State Playoffs and Wheatie played quarterback. Wheatie graduated in 1941 from The Home.

Like his Mighty Mite teammate, Doug Lord, who fell in love with and later married fellow Home student Opal Worthington, Wheatie met and married his first wife Erline Alderson, also a Home Kid. He joined the Marines as a paratrooper at the beginning of World War II and returned home after being wounded. After graduating from college, at North Texas University in Denton, Texas, he became, like other Mighty Mites such as "Brownie" Lewis, a teacher and coach.

Wheatie remained in Fort Worth. "Coach Sealey" retired from the Fort Worth Independent School District in 1981. He was a sixty-year member (and past master) of Polytechnic Masonic Lodge 920 and a member of Godley Masonic Lodge. His brother, Murray, predeceased him. He is survived by two sisters, Agnes Hall of Fort Worth and Niela Shelton of Haslet, his wife of 30 years, Joella Mims Sealey, and numerous children, step-children and great-grandchildren.

links:
obit from Fort Worth Star Telegram
photo

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