Sessions Samuel "Buck" Wheeler was born April 27, 1911, on a ranch near Fernley, Nevada, to Lister and Lythia Wheeler. In 1915 the family moved to Reno, where Buck attended Reno grammar schools, Reno High School and the University of Nevada, Reno, receiving his Master of Science degree in 1935. He married Nevada Hazel Pedroli in April, 1948. They had no children; Nevada died November 19, 1996, and Sessions passed away on August 25, 1998.
Wheeler's love of the Nevada desert and countryside developed early and was further enhanced by his experience as a young man working for a survey crew for the U.S. General Land Office. He taught biology at Reno High School for thirty years and summer classes in conservation at his alma mater. He spent three years as the first director of the Nevada Fish and Game Commission (1947-1950) and was an avid fisherman and sportsman.
He co-authored two textbooks about conservation and integrated conservation into his class curriculum. He and close friends such as Craig Sheppard and Kenneth Carpenter made many trips to the Black Rock Desert, studying, observing, painting, and photographing the desert landscape. His desert experiences and extensive research were compiled into several books.
Buck met Major Max C. Fleischmann in 1939 while golfing at Glenbrook, Lake Tahoe. Both shared sports interests, a concern for and love of the outdoors, and fishing. Their mutual respect led to Wheeler's appointment as a trustee of the Fleischmann Foundation after the Major's death in 1951, a position Buck filled until the foundation was dissolved in 1980.
Wheeler also served on the board of the Nevada State Museum. He received the Conservationist of the Year award, Outstanding Biology Teacher award, and the Distinguished Nevadan Award from the University of Nevada in 1963.
In addition to his two textbooks on conservation, Wheeler and William O. Bay coauthored a column for the Reno Evening Gazette called "Nevada Sage & Stream.” Wheeler authored the following works:
Paiute. Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, 1965
The Nevada Desert. Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, 1971.
Nevada's Black Rock Desert, illustrated by J. Craig Sheppard. Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, 1978.
The Black Rock Desert, illustrated by J. Craig Sheppard. Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, 1978.
Nevada Desert Sheepman by Reginald Meaker as told to Sessions S. Wheeler and Gerald
Meaker. Sparks, Nevada, Western Printing and Publishing Company, 1981.
Gentleman in the Outdoors: A Portrait of Max C. Fleischmann. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1985.
The Desert Lake: The Story of Nevada's Pyramid Lake. (Revised ed). Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, 1987.
Tahoe Heritage: The Bliss Family of Glenbrook, Nevada by Sessions S. Wheeler with William W. Bliss. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1992.
"Sagebrush, Pine Trees and Youth." Unpublished, incomplete autobiography.