March 6, 1945 - February 7, 2017 Nita Irvine Wheeler Connelly, passed away peacefully on February 7, 2017 at her home in Corona del Mar, with her husband John of 42 years by her side. Nita was born on March 6, 1945 in Oakland, California, the daughter of Charles Stetson Wheeler III and Kathryn "Katie" Lillard Wheeler, and the great-grand daughter of James Irvine. Raised in the same Blue Cottage where she passed away, Nita was a member of Corona del Mar High School's first graduating class and the school's first Homecoming Queen. Following High School, Nita married Swiss architect Robert O. Haefelfinger. They moved to Basel, Switzerland, where she gave birth to children, Brigitte, Monika, Kathryn, and Robert J. Haefelfinger. Following the end of her first marriage, Nita moved back to Newport Beach, where she married the love of her life, John Patrick Connelly. Together they had two children, Christopher and Sasha Connelly. Along with raising her family, hosting Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners, and preserving the Irvine and Wheeler family legacies, Nita took great pleasure in running the family cattle ranch located near Orland, California, spending time with loved ones at Abalone Beach in Laguna, taking Duffy rides on the harbor, and dining at Newport Harbor Yacht Club, where both her and her parents were longtime members. In addition, Nita's passion for horses led her to become a successful thoroughbred horse owner and breeder. Nita was a beautiful and loving daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother. She was gracious, genuine, and generous to all who knew her, and always greeted people with infectious joy and a broad, warm smile. But her greatest passion was sharing her love and life with her children and grandchildren, whom she showered with constant love and affection. She was never happier than when she was surrounded by the noise and chaos of her six children and thirteen grandchildren. Nita was predeceased by her parents; brother, James; and daughter, Brigitte. She is survived by her husband, John; sister, Helene; children, Monika, Kathryn, Robert, Christopher, and Sasha; grandchildren, Brodie, Briggs, Prescott, Nita, Maia, Braiden, Charles, Andrus, Lillian, Harrison, Eugen, Jillian, and Christian; niece, Jeana; nephew, Todd; and numerous other relatives and close friends. A memorial service for all who knew and loved Nita will be held at the Pacific View Memorial Park chapel, 3500 Pacific View Drive, Corona Del Mar, on Thursday, February 16th at 2:00 p.m.
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