Irwin: Reimer feels ‘fortunate’ after grappling with diabetes, amputation

Bill Reimer says he feels “much” better than he did a year ago at this time, which is remarkable considering the health problems he’s gone through since the fall.

Most wrestling fans probably don’t know who Reimer is because he does the behind the scenes stuff at wrestling tournaments. He’s run the District 6 Tournament for 15 years, as well as being the Altoona scorekeeper and a scorer at the PIAA Championships for a long time.

Around this time last year, the now 72-year-old Reimer was telling the coaches and others that it might be time to give it up, and he was training Damian Branas to take over. There was more to it, though, than just advancing age.

“I was really tired and I didn’t feel good,” he says. “That’s why I got Damian started last year, thinking I’d go one more year and then he could start running it. And all of this happened.”

Reimer says his diabetes got out of control, and it led to the amputation of a toe on his left foot. And when that didn’t stop the infection, the doctors amputated his left leg just below the knee.

That got rid of the infection. Reimer said he didn’t know about the leg amputation until after he awakened in the hospital.

“I kind of got awake, and I knew something was different,” he said. “I knew my leg wasn’t on. If they hadn’t done that, I would be underground right now. I feel very fortunate. The doctors were very good. Eventually I got taken care of, and I hope to be on my feet within two months.”

Reimer dropped from 170 pounds to 130 while the infection was raging, but he’s back up to 160 and has a lot more energy. He gets around in a wheelchair now, and he was at the AAHS Fieldhouse on Saturday night for the finals.

Soon he’ll be fitted for a prosthetic leg. It will allow him to be more independent and be back swinging golf clubs.

“I want to get back on the golf course and I want to be here next year,” Reimer said. “Damian ran it for me, but I did a lot of the background for him. I still like doing this.”

Reimer missed the District 6 Class AA Tournament, but he was involved in the discussions with Branas on how to run the weather-delayed tournament.

“It was tough,” Reimer said of missing the tournament. “He kept calling me and we discussed how I wanted things. Things worked out last week really well, and the same with this week.”

“Having Bill here tonight is great,” said Branas, who considers Reimer as the tournament director. “I know he’s missed being here, and he’s still been a large part of organizing both the double-A and triple-A tournaments. Wrestling really gives him a lot of motivation.”

Reimer is a former referee, and recently the Blair County Chapter of Officials was renamed the Bill Reimer Chapter of officials. He was wearing the chapter jacket when the officials working the Class AAA tournament presented him with a plaque before the finals in recognition of his work and the name change.

He said he found out about the name change at a chapter meeting three weeks ago at Pal-Mino’s Pizza, with family and officials there to mark the occasion.

“To have this chapter named after me is unbelievable,” the usually stoic Reimer said as he fought back tears Saturday. “It’s quite an honor.

Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at He can be followed on Twitter at ToddIrwin1.