January 26 – Happy Birthday Chuck Wert

Chuck and Mary Ann Wert
Chuck and Mary Ann Wert

(Here are some excerpts from my birthday post for former AHS athlete Chuck Wert.)

…They were indeed the stars but the heart, soul and fire of the team for whom Recorder Sports Editor Art Hoefs first coined the phrase “Rugged Rams,” came from lesser recognized guys like Joe Pozniak, Dave Bonanno and Chuck Wert. Their names did not often appear in the headlines but if you were sitting in the stands up at Lynch Stadium on Saturday afternoons watching the Rams play back then, you kept hearing them announced over and over on the public address system, “pass broken up by Dave Bonanno…that’s a four yard gain by Pozniak…tackle made by Chuck Wert.”

Chuck in 1967

I loved watching Chuck Wert compete, not just as a defensive end for the Rugged Rams but also as a key sixth man on the 1968 AHS Varsity Basketball squad. He played both games with constant, exuberant joy and hustle.It didn’t matter what the score was, win or lose, Wert just never slowed down or gave up and he always looked like he was enjoying every single second of every moment of action. The first time I saw the former Los Angeles Laker forward Kurt Rambis dive on the floor for a loose ball I said to myself, “that guy reminds me of Chuck Wert”…

… in 1970 back home in Amsterdam, he met the love of his life, Amsterdam native Mary Ann Nadler. The two got married a year later and they ended up moving to Watertown, NY, where Chuck worked in law enforcement for a while before the couple opened up “The Wing Wagon,” the first restaurant in that city to serve Buffalo style chicken wings and though many of their friends thought they were crazy, the restaurant is still going strong 34 years later…

Chuck and Mary Ann also raised two daughters and one of the things the entire family has in common is that they all love to sing, especially in barbershop quartet formats and they are all extremely good at it…

…So it appears as though Chuck has lived his life just like he played his sports back in high school, with constant, exuberant joy and hustle. But like all families, Chuck and Mary Ann have faced challenges and the most serious of them have been his battles with cancer. After beating it once already, doctors found a tumor on Chuck’s lung earlier this year. The truth is that tumor doesn’t have a chance because as Chuck Wert has proven time and again, he loves to compete.

My complete birthday post for Chuck Wert will appear in the new second edition of A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam, NY Birthdays, which will be available before the 2016 Holiday season. I also distribute an Amsterdam, NY Birthday Blog Monthly Newsletter that includes the full birthday posts for three of the twenty-to-thirty  people whose birthdays I recognize each month. Each newsletter also includes an Amsterdam Birthday Quiz that will test your knowledge and memory of people and events in your hometown.

The monthly newsletter is free. If you’d like to receive it, just make sure your name and e-mail address are included on this list.


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