Wyandotte's Jimmy Has Died

Jimmy Wirtel was a Wyandotte fixture often seen pushing himself down Biddle in his wheelchair.

Jimmy Wirtel, known to some by his name and to many others by his smiling personality, died Monday.

Jimmy was a Wyandotte fixture who often could be seen pushing himself around town in his wheelchair. A regular at , Jimmy ate there nearly daily, pushing himself backward through the restaurant, maneuvering his way around, but being careful not to disturb anyone else.

Jimmy spent the first 25 years of his life in an institution. He was born disabled and has been wheelchair-bound his entire life. Longtime friend Alice Raupp helped him leave the institution and start living independently. Jimmy moved to Wyandotte in 1975. He left briefly, but had been back for the last two decades.

Without any immediate relatives nearby, Jimmy kept in touch with some via the mail. His cousin, Deb Dorney, learned of his death from a story on Wyandotte Patch.

"I am so very saddened to read this news," she said. "I live in DC and if it hadn't been for your article, I guess I would have heard when my letters would be returned to me. ... Thank you so much for honoring my cousin. He loved the people of Wyandotte, Graceland and Nanna's Kitchen so much."

, which co-hosted , posted this tribute of Jimmy on their Facebook page: "His attitude was inspirational. He was a well known friend to anyone that spent any time in Downtown Wyandotte."

Mayor Joseph Peterson said he remembers Jimmy from walking the beat years ago as a . Peterson said Wirtel never had a negative word to say and his smile would light up a room.

"Jimmy had quite the interesting life," he said. "He never depended on anybody. He will be missed."

When word of his death got out Monday afternoon, those who knew Jimmy or knew of Jimmy were quick to share their memories.

"I used to see him all over town," Mark Zielman wrote on the Wyandotte Patch Facebook page. "I never knew him personally, but I always thought he was very inspiring. I'll miss seeing him."

"When I waitressed at , he would often come in to eat," Shellie Cade wrote. "He was not only one of the sweetest people ever, he was a Wyandotte icon."

"Jimmy, you were a wonderful teacher and friend," Wyandotte artist Patricia Izzo wrote. "Thank you for the conversations about the books you were reading, thank you for your COURAGE, thank you for the smile you flashed with sincerity. You may have been confined to a wheelchair, but your mind and spirit were free. Just like you are now."

Funeral arrangements are pending. Donations for funeral expenses are being accepted at Nanna's Kitchen. Check back later as more information is released.

For more on Jimmy,

denise funti April 04, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Jimmy may. God you and keep you in his. Care rip
Alice A. Raupp April 22, 2012 at 03:53 PM
The untold want, by life and land never granted Now Voyager sail forth, to seek and find Walt Whitman James loved ships and always said if he were not a person with a disability he would have been a ships captain...Shortly before he left this Earth he spoke to me of finding a sailing ship...this quote is for him... I would also like to share with all of you his favorite poem written by an unknown Confederate Soldier sometimes known as the Creed for the Disabled I asked God for strength that I might achieve I was made weak that I might lean humbly to obey I asked for health that I might do greater things I was given infirmity that I might do better things I asked for riches that I might be happy I was given poverty that I might be wise I asked for power that I might have the praise of men I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God I asked for all things that I might enjoy life I was given life that I might enjoy all things I got nothing that I I asked for but everything I hoped for I am among all men most richly blessed
Alice A. Raupp April 24, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Jim will have a memorial on May 11 Copeland Center from 7 to 10 in the evening..There is a sign up sheet at Nanas Kitchen for those who would like to come celebrate Jims life...
Bishop Jerry Brohl, COSF June 23, 2012 at 12:54 PM
I often saw Jimmy at Nanna's Kitchen. Always smiling, always ready with a friendly reply to my Hi, Jimmy! He is an excellent positive example to all of us. Whatever limitations we may have, they do not have to enslave us. The Spirit of God within us will overcome anything if we cooperate with It.
Robert A. Foreman October 30, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Can some put me in contact with Alice A. Raupp.? She would remember me, Jimmy and I were pals. I had the honor of his friendship and companionship for seventeen years, as I drove him back and forth to church each week. Her late husband, Roger, was my supervisor, back in 1984-1986. Robert A. Foreman, bobforeman1@gmail.com. (I moved to Atlanta in 1992 and lost track of him).


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