As gun shop nears 50 years, owner receives special gift

ELKINS, W.Va. (AP) — An area businessman of nearly 50 years was honored recently with a gift commemorating his life and family.

Jim Wheeler, owner of Wheeler’s Guns and Ammo, opened his doors on July 1, 1972, not knowing that 46 years later his business would be one of the largest gun and ammunition retailers in the Mountain State.

On Thursday, Steve Faler, the owner of Heroes and Patriots, based out of Fort Collins, Colorado, who specialize in limited edition firearms, surprised Wheeler with a one-of-a-kind Henry Golden boy .22-caliber commemorating his life.

The firearm features an octagon barrel, has an American walnut stock, and has 24-carat gold plating on the barrel band, the receiver cover and the butt plate.

“It’s a handmade .22 firearm. We gold plated it, engraved it and we had an artist that drew everything on it,” Faler said.

Executive Vice President/Sales Manager Rosemary Silano explained the artwork on the firearm which included Wheeler’s children, parents and memories from his youth.

“Marlea (Wheeler) sent pictures to us of his life and I had the artist draw them. It’s his mother and father, it’s his sons, there is pictures of him when he was 7-years-old on that gun, there’s things that they did like going and shooting squirrels with his brother,” Silano said.

Faler said he believed Wheeler was deserving of the gun and noted he has only made specialized firearms for two other people in

his career.

“I’ve been dealing with him a long time and I’ve only done this for one or two other people in my life — Harry Carey Jr., the movie star, and Joe Mantegna of Criminal Minds and Gun Stories,” Faler said.

“They all cried, it touches the heart and they see their family on their,” Silano added. “I call them the family legacy guns. It is pretty rare that we do them but it’s because I think (Wheeler) needs to be honored. He needs recognition and this is our way of showing him how much we appreciate all of his kindness, his business and his story is so inspirational to us.”

She added Wheeler is a savvy businessman and had inspired and assisted others in their own businesses.

“I talked to some other dealers who actually told me (Wheeler) helped them get started,” Silano added. “He inspired them to get started in their businesses and I think his life is really inspirational to others. It really is a good story.”

Wheeler said he was honored to received the unique gift.

“It’s the biggest surprise of my career. It has a lot of family detail on it and it’s one of a kind,” Wheeler said. “I really appreciate it.”

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Information from: The Inter-Mountain, http://www.theintermountain.com

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