Charlie Wedemeyer dies

Charlie Wedemeyer dies
Kale Ane
Kale Ane
Blane Gaison
Blane Gaison
Charlie (on right) with his wife Lucy
Charlie (on right) with his wife Lucy

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii says aloha to Charlie Wedemeyer.

Diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease, the former star athlete not only survived for decades longer than expected, but he inspired people around the world.

Wedemeyer's health was deteriorating over the past few weeks and ultimately, it was pneumonia that took his life.

"It's not so much your circumstance or your adversity, but it's your attitude and how you respond," His wife Lucy said during an interview five years ago.

Way before he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease some 30 years ago, Wedemeyer knew no boundaries.

"He was very humble and didn't really attract attention to what he did, he just did his thing, he went back to the sidelines to be with everyone else, which really influenced a lot of us," Family friend Kale Ane said.

Ane's father coached Wedemeyer. He also went on to play football for Michigan State, the same school as Wedemeyer.

At a mere 5'7" and 164 pounds, Wedemeyer played receiver and back.

His most memorable feat was taking part in the 10-10 tie with Notre Dame. It was the first game to be televised in Hawaii.

He would go on to be earn such honors as a National High School Sports Hall of Famer and Hawaii's top prep athlete in the 60s.

But his greatest accomplishment would come after he became the coach of Los Gatos High School in California.

That's when he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease and would inspire people around the world to fight on despite the pain.

"Just knowing the strength of a family and the drive that continued to keep all of them going, it was a testimony to us here in Hawaii and to people throughout the country," Charlie's nephew Blane Gaison said.

With his wife Lucy by his side, they would go on a mission to educate many around the country about this paralyzing disease.

"He's probably laughing, saying there's no need for you to be crying, so I can already hear his voice and that's what's going to continue to keep us moving forward," Gaison said.

Wedemeyer's family has scheduled a memorial service for June 19th in California.

They hope to have one in Hawaii as well.

"Through sharing their story or just encouraging on the phone with families around the world, they've been able to inspire people and help people cope through a really tragic time," Charlie's son-in-law Keith Andry said by phone in California.

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