Skip to main content

Noted MN Marine vet, wheelchair athlete and disabled rights advocate dies

  • Author:
  • Updated:

A northern Minnesota community is remembering Charles Wittwer, a Vietnam veteran who became a celebrated wheelchair athlete and disabled rights advocate after an auto accident in the 1970s.

Wittwer, who died on Friday, June 5, was born in Fargo and graduated from high school in St. Paul, later settling in Island Lake, Minnesota, according to his bio on the Sunrise Funeral Home website.

A highly decorated Marine Corps machine gunner in the Vietnam War, Wittwer returned home and pursued a career in education, eventually becoming a Special Needs Facilitator at Blue Earth High School.

But in 1979, a collision with a semitrailer changed the course of his life.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, though the accident left Wittwer without the use of his legs, he became a widely recognized wheelchair athlete, and also lobbied for disabled rights as a member of Minnesota Paralyzed Veterans.

His sports activities earned him recognition as a General Mills Gold Medal athlete and landed him on a special edition box of Cheerios in 2007, his bio notes.

The Duluth News Tribune says he died after an illness.

Wittwer was 66.

Next Up


Sheriff: Men found unresponsive in garage died of cocaine overdose

Two of the three men found unresponsive in an Eyota garage last week died of a drug overdose, a preliminary autopsy found.

Anthony Edwards

Ant's injury clouds Timberwolves' victory over the Nets

The Timberwolves star was injured in the final minutes on Sunday night.

Akoya Lee

Byron native Ayoka Lee sets NCAA record for points in a game

The Kansas State forward broke a record shared by former Gopher Rachel Banham.

cold, wind chill, freezing

It's going to be stupid cold again Tuesday and Wednesday

They'll almost certainly be the 10th and 11th days with subzero temps this month.

Williams Uptown Pub

Williams Uptown Pub & Peanut Bar closes indefinitely after shooting

Reports say police have arrested two suspects in the incident.

Alex Rodríguez

A-Rod wears a Packers hat, Minnesotans lose their minds

The Timberwolves co-owner didn't endear himself to his fan base on Saturday night.

Flickr - Minneapolis police squad - Chad Davis

Police: Man shoots into crowd at funeral reception in Minneapolis

The shooting happened at a reception following a funeral on Saturday afternoon.

Screen Shot 2022-01-23 at 8.37.27 AM

Watch: Jimmy Garoppolo says 'F*** the Packers' after playoff win

The 49ers quarterback congratulated Robbie Gould in spectacular fashion.

Aaron Rodgers

America dunks on Aaron Rodgers after loss to 49ers

The Packers quarterback was destroyed on social media on Saturday night.


Wheelchair track and field athlete sues MSHSL

KARE 11 reports that 15-year-old Rose Hollerman feels it is discrimination to not be allowed to compete alongside other athletes. The Minnesota State High School League says it is mostly an issue of safety that prohibits the Waterville-Elysian-Morristown High School sophomore from racing against other runners.

Heat doesn't stop 900 from running for disabled vets in Cold Spring

Despite the heat and wind, more than 900 participants ran in Saturday’s Old Glory Run in Cold Spring, an annual event to raise money for the Disabled American Veterans organization. For the past five years, the 3.1-mile run has raised almost $90,000 for the cause.