Big No More, Ed Wernsing’s Back and Better Than Ever

Big Ed in his full-size glory at a BrandSource Convention in Las Vegas

By Andy Kriege, YSN

It’s hard not to know “Big Ed” Wernsing of Wernsing’s Appliance in Litchfield, Ill. If you are in the same ZIP Code, you cannot miss seeing (or hearing) him, much less mistake him for anyone else.

Big Ed is a one-of-a-kind individual whom, if you ever have the pleasure of meeting, you will never forget. When I think of Big Ed, I envision a mountain of a man topping six-foot-three and 340 pounds with the look of a pro wrestler, who could pick up his opponent and give him an airplane spin before tossing him over the top rope and out of the ring.

Not anymore. The man we knew as “Big Ed” isn’t so big these days. In fact, it would be hard to recognize him at a glance. He now jokingly now refers to himself as “Medium-Size Ed,” as he is now but a shadow of his former massive self. What remains huge, though, is the miraculous series of events that recently transpired, allowing Big Ed to still be with us at all.

By the time Christmas rolled around last year, Ed was feeling so bad he could barely walk, grasping the pews in church just to maneuver across a five-foot span. Soon after he was in a wheelchair and fading fast. Finally acknowledging that something was seriously amiss, he broke down and sought specialized medical help. The diagnosis: renal failure.

With his kidneys shot, Big Ed was now facing a dismal future that likely included a daily date with a dialysis machine for what would surely be a limited lifespan.

During a Stanley Cup Championship series, the Bud Light Man requested a photo with Big Ed, a 53-year St. Louis Blues season ticket holder who the mascot described as “a legend around here.”

But Ed’s wife Patty, who happens to be an RN, suspected there was even more going on and insisted that he see additional specialists to dive deeper into his burgeoning health issues. Patty’s intuition proved correct: underscoring his kidney ailments was a gall bladder about to explode. His doctors quickly determined that this was his primary problem, and the kidneys secondary.

After multiple operations, complications, and months of rehab, and more than 1,000 gallstones later (yes, they removed over 1,000!), Ed was on the road to recovery. Following his surgeries, he went on a restrictive, low-sodium diet that has allowed his kidneys, to the astonishment of his doctors, to begin to function again. What’s more, his new diet, combined with a newfound exercise regimen, allowed him to lose a whopping 105 pounds, necessitating an entirely new wardrobe — with the exception, of course, of his beloved St. Louis Blues cap.

He now feels, in his own words, “like a million bucks.”

Big Ed’s new look, sans 105 pounds, which earned him the updated nickname, “Medium-Sized Ed” pictured with his wife and guardian angel Patty.

“I now live on fruits and veggies and feel better and have more energy than I have had in years,” Medium-Sized Ed told YSN. “I now just wave at McDonalds, Wendy’s and Steak ’n Shake and drive right on by. My tastebuds have evolved, so I don’t even miss it.”

Ed is now a fixture both on the golf course and at his local gym, where he exercises regularly. His health and vitality restored, he proclaimed that “God gave me a new lease on life, and I believe he wanted me to share my story with others facing big challenges. With determination, prayer and the help of good friends and family, you can get through anything.”

“If I can do it, anyone can,” he said.

With business crazy busy this year, Ed’s son Doug had to pick up the slack in his father’s absence. Doug can’t get over the newfound pep in his dad’s step, noting that “With his new lease on life he has the energy he did 30 years ago. He is fired up about the business and it is ‘Go, go, go!’ all the time! There is never a dull moment.”

Now back at the store, Ed says he is “having a blast” and enjoying every minute of it, from placing purchasing orders during the wee hours of the night to monitoring the installation of a new roof.

But no matter how much he shrinks in stature, nothing will ever diminish the size of his generous heart or his hearty, contagious laugh. For that reason alone, he will always be “Big Ed” to his friends at BrandSource.

BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.