There is sadness in the South Bay today as people begin to learn the news that Charlie Wedemeyer has died. He died Thursday morning from pnemonia at the Santa Teresa Kaiser, a complication caused by a recent surgery. He was 64 years old.
Wedemeyer was a long time football coach at Los Gatos High School who was diagnosed with ALS back in 1978. Doctors initially gave him two to three years to live, but he defied the odds and survived 32 years with the debilitating disease that slowly took away the use of his body.
His wife Lucy said following his death that she thought God must have had a crucial football game scheduled in heaven and needed a coach. She said her husband died surrounded by family and friends.
Over the past decades he and Lucy became a motivational team. When he lost his voice, Lucy was able to interpret his words by the slight movement of his lips during countless speaking engagements. The disease continued to take a terrible toll on Charlie Wedemeyer's body leaving him for at least the last 10 years with only the ability to move his eyes.
Lucy said her husband went in the hospital two weeks ago for a bowel obstruction and made it through five surgeries in two weeks. Lucy said one surgeon put a picture of Charlie in the operating room and stayed with the family during countless hours during his last days. She was very thankful to all the medical staff at Kaiser who helped care for her husband since 1985.
To say Charlie Wedemeyer was an inspiration is an understatement. Accolades are sure to pour in from professional football players, Christian ministers and every day folks. The Mercury News' Mark Purdy was among the first.
The Charlie Wedemeyer High School All-Star Football Game is coming up on July 21 at Spartan Stadium. It will be the first time in the past 35 years that Wedemeyer won't be there cheering the players on. Top high school football players compete in the Wedemeyer classic every summer.