Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Verne Gagne: Still Lethal
This is sad. I missed this article last year, but I grew up with AWA Wrestling or All-Star Wrestling in Minnesota.
One of the key figures of this time was Verne Gagne. He was the man, in fact he was the owner of the AWA.
Well it turns out he is 82 or 83 and sometime ago started suffering from from Alzheimer's disease.
He got into it several times with another resident of the home he was staying at. Apparently body-slammed a 97-year-old fellow patient at the suburban nursing home where they both lived, causing the man's death.
Helmut Gutmann, a former cancer researcher who suffered from dementia himself, died Feb. 14, about three weeks after breaking his hip in the confrontation. Authorities ruled his death a homicide. I am very saddened by these events. As Helmut Gutmann (who I never knew was a pretty special guy.
Helmut was born July 31, 1911 in Strasbourg, Germany. He received an MD from the University of Goettingen. Helmut had an avid and life-long love of recreational sports, including skiing, mountainclimbing, tennis, swimming, canoeing and fitness training. He immigrated to the US in 1936 under threat from the Nazi government, and served as a captain in the Chemical Warfare Service of the US Army. Helmut worked for 40 years as a research scientist at the VA Hospital in Minneapolis. His research resulted in the publication of 120 papers in professional journals. In addition to science, Helmut had an abiding love of classical music. He played the violin for many years, including 12 years with the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra. Later in life, he played the piano, which he did until his death.
Police said there was no clear indication of what set Gagne off, and neither man could remember the incident afterward. Behavior and personality changes are common as Alzheimer's progresses, and victims of the mind-robbing disease can become agitated.
Like others with the disease, Gagne had all but lost his short-term memory, while his recollections of long-ago events were vivid. But whether he was suffering a flashback to his days in the ring, as some have speculated, is anybody's guess.
Police said they plan to forward the case to prosecutors by the end of the week for possible charges. Gagne, who has since turned 83, has been moved to another institution.
It seams this was the second time they tangled. They had had one scuffle before, when Gutmann had been shouting at other residents and Gagne put a chokehold on him. Gutmann wasn't hurt in that incident.
I know I am late on this, but thought it was worth posting.