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College of Arts and Sciences|Diamond Jubilee -- 75th Anniversary

John Winterholler*

Bachelor of Arts - 1940 - History

The story of Johnny Winterholler, originally from Lovell, Wyoming, is extraordinarily inspiring. He attended the University to study to be a teacher and a coach. He was perhaps the most outstanding all-around Cowboy athlete, earning all-conference status in football, baseball and basketball prior to graduating in 1940. He enlisted in the Marine Corps as a second lieutenant, and survived the infamous Bataan Death March and three years in a prisoner-of-war camp. He was awarded the Silver and Bronze stars for his part in defense of the Philippines.

After the war, he spent two years in a military hospital, struggling to regain his health. Unfortunately, his physical ailments were to confine him permanently to a wheelchair. His response was to organize and lead a wheelchair basketball team, the "Rolling Devils," that toured the U.S. from 1947-49. He retired as a Marine colonel, attended business college, and became a licensed public accountant. He was office manager for plastic surgeon Dr. Gerald H. Gray, whom Winterholler met during his hospitalization, and whom he calls "The Father of Wheelchair Basketball." Both retired in 1973. In 1964, Winterholler was named UW Distinguished Alumnus for his achievements in the humanities, and received a Silver Anniversary Award from Sports Illustrated for his UW football career. In 1985, the town of Lovell named a local school's new athletic facility "John Winterholler Gymnasium" in his honor. In 1993, he was one of the first former athletes inducted into UW's new Athletic Hall of Fame. Winterholler says, "I am still a fan of the football and baseball teams. We are unable to get the Wyoming games on TV, but watch the papers for news of what they are doing. It has been a thrill to be honored for my athletic career. It was always fun to participate in all sports and with the people that played with me."

*In loving memory.

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