John, who traveled Maplewood in a motorized wheelchair, has died

I was told today that John, the paraplegic who at one time lived in a group home and navigated Manchester Road in Maplewood in a motorized wheelchair, passed on a few weeks ago.

He was well known at Jimmy John’s, Maplewood Pawn, Crow’s Nest, Citizens National Bank..

An employee at Paramount told about once selling John a nice watch he wanted, which he did, but John beat it up from his normal use. After being sent to the manufacturer twice for repair they said no more. Later he gave John a Casio watch. John protested but the jeweler insisted, saying he shouldn’t have sold him the other one in the first place. He wondered if John passed on wearing the watch.

He also told me how John would go to the Crow’s Nest after getting his disability check, and told him to slow down as he raced down the sidewalk after.

Last summer I came across John sitting in the hot sun at the corner of Manchester and Sutton; his chair wasn’t working and he was asking for help getting it going. I tried every switch I could find. Then another guy came by and pitched in. We weren’t having any luck but didn’t want to leave him sitting there. Then someone driving by stuck his head out the window and said if we kick the battery that will get it going. We did, and it did.

As is always the case, we often know only a small part of someones life when they die. I’m sure John was a friendly part of many lives.


15 thoughts on “John, who traveled Maplewood in a motorized wheelchair, has died

  1. A reminder that John Wichmann’s Memorial Service it TODAY, August 19, at 11:00 a.m. at Concordia Lutheran Church in Maplewood: 7291 Sarah St. (right across from the post office) with free luncheon after. Please come and give thanks for John and sing praises to our Lord who has destroyed death and the grave. All will have a moment to share memories of John at the Luncheon after the service.

  2. John Wichmann did not live in a group home btw. He lived in his own apartement and only had part-time assistance. A remarkable guy, who was also a well-known activist for rights of the disabled a couple decades ago. And a die-hard Cards fan, too.

  3. I didn’t know John at all, though he was familiar to me by sight. What touches my heart is all of the good things his Maplewood “family” has to say about him. Don’t you just love this town and all of the special people who live here?! RIP John…..then have fun walking about heaven!

  4. John touched many hearts. We’ll miss him at the neighborhood polling place.

  5. Thank you for sharing this story Doug, I didn’t know John but said hi to him a lot at Jimmie Johns. This is what makes Maplewood such a great inclusive community. We have all kinds of people who live here and we try to help each other. We will really miss him.

  6. That explains why I haven’t seen him at church lately. Sad. I missed a number of church services because of playing jobs so maybe I missed the announcement and if there was a funeral.

  7. I owned The Disc-Connection from 1981-2006. The store was located on Manchester Road in downtown Maplewood for its last 19 years. John was one of the sweetest people who frequented my store. He loved music and came in whenever he had extra money to buy his favorites. He always smiled, thanked us and hugged everyone. He was such a gentle person. What a loss to Maplewood since John had become legendary. I will miss you, John. I know you are still rockin’!!!

  8. I’ve been knowing john since I was a little kid we would always talk. As I got older I would still go into maplewood and see him. He was a big part of my life growing up what a good guy and trust his disability never held him back.

  9. I didn’t know John personally, but he always had a friendly hello and a smile for me and my family when we passed on the street. I am saddened to hear he has passed away. We will truly miss him.

  10. As a young cashier at Shop n Save, I finally got the chance to meet the man riding in the wheelchair around town for many of my childhood years. John. He was the epitome of warm smiles & nice friendly hugs. Everytime we saw each other, it was instant hugs. Rest easy John, I hope you get to run far & fast now.

  11. So sad to hear, I enjoyed seeing him around town. A few years ago myself and my husband saw him break down in the middle of Manchester during evening rush hour. Cars were flying past him, honking and giving other ignorant gestures so we stopped to help. I hopped out, disengaged the motors and shoved him across the street while my husband blocked traffic with the truck so we wouldn’t get hit. Got to looking at his chair once on the sidewalk and found a wire came loose. He chuckled about me being good at working on wheelchairs, I explained to him that my uncle is in one so I have first hand experience at the things.

  12. Yes, John was a really nice man. He was well know at Citizen’s and I’m talking about in the 80’s and 90’s., for sure….probably before that. I am sad knowing he has passed on. I had heard one time that someone had robbed him, and that made me so mad. Who would anyone do that ?? I used to live and work (at Citizen’s ) in Maplewood for many years. Even in the 70’s….(I started at Citizen’s in 1977), and used to walk to work. I recently sold my house in Maplewood, and I now live in Kirksville, MO with my daughter, but I miss Maplewood and visit in St. Louis, and Maplewood often. I grew up in Brentwood, and my grandparent’s, both sets of them, lived in Maplewood. My mom and dad graduated from MRH High School in the late 30’s….so I do have it in my blood. I always enjoyed seeing John tool around and especially come in the bank in his wheel chair. And
    I am sorry to hear of his passing. Many the times, I would see him at the front door of the bank and let him in…or have someone do it. And so many more people helped him around Maplewood on his journeys. I will say a prayer for all of us who are missing him……

    • Pat, I am sure you knew my great friend Sophie Topolski, Judy and I are best friends. I know you must miss the old neighborhood. I am happy to still be here after all these years.
      Margaret Hely Watkins