Bernhardt Wichmann III, the Korean War veteran and Upper East Side fixture who lost his voice in 1983 in a botched surgery, only to recover it miraculously last year, has died at the age of 83, according to a friend.
Wichmann was moved from his $300-a-month room in one of the city’s last remaining SROs above the J.G. Melon bar on the Upper East Side to a nursing home this winter after his cancer progressed, said Jorge Grisales, the doorman at The Mayfair on East 74th St. who looked after him and reported Wichmann’s death.
After Wichmann died July 7, Grisales and Jorge Arias, another Mayfair doorman who befriended and looked after Wichmann for decades, collected $1,500 from neighbors to have him cremated.
His ashes will be interred or placed in a niche in Calverton National Cemetery, said Tom Habermann, manager for the Edward Guida Inc. Funeral Home, in Corona, Queens, who helped the doormen with arrangements. “We’re shooting for Friday,” Habermann added.
Wichmann, who told amNY that the gay liberation movement came too late for him to fall in love and form a family of his own, was a living testament to a bygone NYC in which neighbors and families of choice stood in for blood relatives.
After Wichmann recovered his voice, Arias and Grisales arranged for get Wichmann a cell phone, “but he didn’t want it,” said Grisales. Nor did he want a memorial service, said Grisales, noting that at least his friend “stayed bright right up to the end.”