View Full Version : Life If you're going to die at 97 in a nursing home...

Rain Man
03-06-2009, 10:55 AM
...being body slammed to death by a former professional wrestler is probably as good a way to go as any.


Wrestling Legend Accused of Body-Slamming Nursing Home Roommate to Death
Thursday, March 05, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS During his glory days as a pro wrestler, Verne Gagne shared the spotlight with other burly men in trunks, guys with names like Killer Kowalski, Mad Dog Vachon, The Crusher and Baron Von Raschke.

But all of that seemed well in the past until just weeks ago, when authorities say Gagne, 82 and suffering from Alzheimer's disease, apparently body-slammed a 97-year-old fellow patient at the suburban nursing home where they both lived, causing the man's death.

Bloomington police are investigating, but not even the victim's widow wants to see the dementia-stricken Gagne prosecuted.

"It's been so hard on both families," said Greg Gagne, Gagne's son and a former wrestler himself.

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.

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.

Joseph Daly, a former prosecutor who is now a professor at Hamline University Law School in St. Paul, said he doubts Gagne will be charged. State law prohibits prosecuting anyone who is too mentally deficient to understand the proceedings or offer a defense. Daly said that would appear to apply to Gagne.

"It's a tragedy for the man who was killed, it's a tragedy for the man's family, but it's equally a tragedy for the family of Verne Gagne," said Daly, who has warm memories of Gagne from his youth.

Related StoriesReport: Wrestling Legend Under Investigation in Nursing Home Roommate's Death
In the ring, Gagne (pronounced GAHN-yuh) drew on his background as a college wrestling champion in the 1940s, and typically finished off opponents with his trademark "sleeper hold" a headlock that appeared to make the beaten man pass out.

Gutmann's widow, Betty Gutmann, said she was told by residents and staff members at the nursing home that Gagne picked her husband up and threw him to the ground. She said that they had had one scuffle before, when her husband had been shouting at other residents and Gagne put a chokehold on him. Gutmann wasn't hurt in that incident.

But Betty Gutmann is not blaming Gagne, saying he didn't know what he was doing.

She said most Alzheimer's victims are old and frail, and when they lash out, they don't usually cause much harm. The difference with Gagne is that "he was a professional athlete and was trained to do certain moves. This is what makes him much more dangerous than the ordinary person" with dementia.

Helmut Gutmann fled Nazi Germany in 1936, became a U.S. citizen and joined the Army, where he worked to try to develop an antidote for mustard gas, among other projects, according to his family. He spent 40 years as a cancer researcher at a veterans hospital in Minneapolis.

The company that runs the nursing home refused to comment, citing federal privacy laws.

Gagne was the founder and owner of the American Wrestling Association and wore its championship belt. In the 1960s and '70s, his "All-Star Wrestling" was a TV sensation. The show was a modest affair, taped before small audiences at various Minneapolis TV stations. But it was syndicated on up to 120 channels across the Midwest and as far away as San Francisco, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Winnipeg, Canada.

He mostly stopped wrestling in 1981 but remained active in the business. He trained more than 140 wrestlers from the late 1950s up until 1990, including Blackjack Lanza, Larry "The Axe" Hennig, The Iron Sheik, Sgt. Slaughter and Jesse "The Body" Ventura, who later became governor of Minnesota.

Times turned tough for Gagne in the early 1980s with the rise of the glitzier World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment), which went national on cable TV. Vince McMahon's WWF lured away the AWA's flashiest star at the time, Hulk Hogan, and other fan favorites, Greg Gagne recalled. The AWA, founded in 1960, folded in 1991.

In the 1990s, Hennepin County took Verne Gagne's 58 acres and home on Lake Minnetonka for a park, paying him only a fraction of what the family thought it was worth, Greg Gagne said. By the time that fight was over and the bills were paid, he said, his parents had little money left.

Another blow came three years ago when Gagne was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at the Mayo Clinic, his son said.

"His short-term memory is not there," Greg Gagne said. "But we were up there the other day, and if you talk about his first-grade teacher he can discuss that." He said his father also reminisces about his days as a wrestler and football player at the University of Minnesota.

Daly, the law professor, counts himself among the many saddened by what happened at the nursing home. He fondly recalled a day when he was a teenager working at a local drug store and Gagne came in and struck up a conversation.

"Here he was, talking to a teenager about wrestling, about sports, about life," Daly said. "I remember thinking, `Wow, what a nice person."'

Mr. Flopnuts
03-06-2009, 10:56 AM
Wow. Verne still has it. Another legend for Orton to kill.

03-06-2009, 10:58 AM
That's how I've always dreamed of going.

03-06-2009, 10:59 AM
Let me tell you know brothers, i'm coming for your jello, your cubed turkey, and your walker OHHHH YEEEEEAAAHH

03-06-2009, 11:01 AM
That sucks. I hope I don't live long enough to become a demented old fossil in a nursing home.

03-06-2009, 12:17 PM
where's the "quietly in the night, sleeping peacefully with secure feelings of being loved and adored by family and friends", option?

that or the "motorboating the fuck out of Jessica simpson while being blown by jessica alba and Jessica beil" option. I like to call it "death by jessicas"

but I don't want to grow old and die in anything. I want to go out in a blaze of glory. I'm starting to get old, so I better hurry up and find my book's ending.

03-06-2009, 12:20 PM
the Steroids set him off.......just like it did Benoit.

raybec 4
03-06-2009, 12:27 PM
I would like to add the "Die from a massive heart attack because I did too much coke and banged two 20 year old hookers." option to the poll.

03-06-2009, 12:32 PM
where's the "quietly in the night, sleeping peacefully with secure feelings of being loved and adored by family and friends", option?
Well, would you consider your family and friends to be demented? Even a little bit?

03-06-2009, 12:35 PM
I went with the duel. The former stripper might get wrinkly and if she's demented she might to a bunch of other weird shit.

The duel is badass, gentlemanly, and you get an audience. You die with lots of attention around you, and you didn't even have to be an attention whore about it. It's quick, too (much rather die by gunshot than suffocation).

Hog's Gone Fishin
03-06-2009, 12:39 PM
Oh my god! This brings a terrible thought to mind. What if I end up in a nursing home with dementia and try to carry out the acts of my life long career on others! Just shoot me.

03-06-2009, 01:05 PM
Is it wrong of me to think that this is the funniest poll I have ever read, ever? Good job Rain Man. :)

03-06-2009, 01:48 PM
Well, would you consider your family and friends to be demented? Even a little bit?

if you considered yourself a friend of mine, you'd have to be demented at LEAST a little bit....

03-06-2009, 01:49 PM
That sucks. I hope I don't live long enough to become a demented old fossil in a nursing home.

For a small fee I think we can work something out .

Pioli Zombie
03-06-2009, 01:53 PM
You know, im not afraid of death. I visit old people in nursing homes and it makes me think, well, if the kids are grown, ive had a good life, i know where im going, its great incentive to go sky diving without a parachute.

03-06-2009, 01:57 PM
Something that is little known is that the Nursing homes still charge the persons families for several months after their loved one has died in there....Because they did not give a 30 day notice before they "left".

03-06-2009, 02:33 PM
I am in a pact with a few close friends.

As soon as I can no longer enjoy the finer things in life (a good steak, bowl of pasta, cannoli, Booze or the touch of a woman) or I start to lose my faculties.

It will be Clemenza time. Leave the gun and take the cannolis.


Rain Man
03-06-2009, 04:51 PM
where's the "quietly in the night, sleeping peacefully with secure feelings of being loved and adored by family and friends", option?

Get real. They're never going to visit you in a nursing home. The only people you'll ever see are demented seniors and west african nursing home aides.

03-06-2009, 05:08 PM
Man, they should not have had the outing to the movies to see 'The Wrestler". I vote for sudden cardiac arrest whilst being given fellatio by the cute 95 year old former pagent queen.

03-06-2009, 05:13 PM
I'd rather be slipped into a drug coma by some inept nurse/ wanna be nurse. An induced morphine death would be the way to go in my opinion.

Pioli Zombie
03-06-2009, 05:22 PM
I'm waiting for the Rapture.
Both my ex and I are hoping it happens before the kids are teenagers
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03-06-2009, 05:28 PM
I would love to die by the hands of Mick Foley, while wielding Mr. Socko and using the Mandible Claw. Foley is God.

03-06-2009, 05:32 PM
Holy crap, I remember Verne Gagne.

This is a perfect example of why not to add steroids to oatmeal.