Hawaii's Wedemeyer honored at California memorial service

Hawaii's Wedemeyer honored at California memorial service
Charlie Wedemeyer
Charlie Wedemeyer
Matt Lemiere
Matt Lemiere

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

SAN JOSE, Calif. (HawaiiNewsNow) - He touched many lives.

Charlie Wedemeyer passed away about two weeks ago and Saturday, hundreds of his football players and others remembered him at a huge memorial service in California.

The HP Pavilion is home to the San Jose Sharks hockey team. It seats up to nearly 20,000 people.

The Pavilion's leaders felt it would only be fitting to have Charlie's memorial service there.

They say he would want every player that has ever played for him and their families to be able to attend.

There were players like Brienzo, Tona and Gomez. Just a few of the hundreds who played for Charlie at Los Gatos High.

Most of them, including Phil Yannoni, showed up to honor a coach that meant so much to them.

"I think a lot of people are really upset and sad, I'm actually happy, I think it's a wonderful day, it's sad for most of the people here, but it's a great day for Charlie," Yannoni said.

Yanonni was not only a former player he graduated with Charlie's son, Kale.

"He's coached for so many years, it's like they say, everybody who knows him, loves him," Yanonni said.

His players wore their jerseys, reminisced about their special moments with him and greeted the guests.

Matt Lemiere played for Charlie during his final year of coaching football. He also played in the inaugural Charlie Wedemeyer All-Star Game.

"I was real honored to be chosen captain of that game, came very close to the Wedemeyer family, known them for a long time," Lemiere said.

And he would get to know them real well. His mother had the same ailment as Charlie. She passed away from Lou Gehrig's Disease three years ago.

The players say Charlie's wife, Lucy was also very close to them.

She not only cooked for most of the team members, she knew the first names of every single athlete that suited up for Charlie as well.

"That's a real sign of how great they are, that's how important the Wedemeyer family is to us, we all consider them family," Lemiere said.

Thousands packed the HP Pavilion, listening to speeches and watching a touching tribute.

"We don't talk a whole lot about Charlie's athletic career, but guys, he was a great athlete," Wedemeyer family friend and former San Francisco 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci said.

And despite being told he only had a few years live after being diagnosed with ALS 30 years ago, it was a long life filled with inspirational moments.

The Wedemeyer family says they plan on holding a memorial ceremony here in Hawaii as well.

But they have yet to set a date.

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