Video Archive: Duluth inventor Bill Kielczewski, 1983

Forty years ago today — April 21, 1983 — Twin Cities Public Television aired a profile of Duluth inventor Bill Kielczewski on its program Nighttimes Magazine.

More on the story of Bill Kielczewski can be read on the Koochiching County Historical Society and Koochiching Museums website. See “Survival in a Northern Wilderness: A Mother’s Story–Part XLIII,” which concludes with this paragraph summarizing the final years of Kielczewski’s life:

Billy re-educated himself by attending the University of Minnesota and with his left hand he was able to work from home in his wheelchair. He was employed by the Duluth Community Action Program and later was named acting director for Project Start (science and technology for access rehabilitation and training) at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Billy sang in the church choir, was a co-founder of the U.M.D. disabled persons organization, a founding member of the Great Lakes Writers Guild and other distinguished organizations. Billy designed a multi-terrain wheelchair named the “Ranger Ascent” which traveled over gravel as easily as carpet and allowed disabled people to retrieve objects from the ground and floors. It could travel up hills and was equipped so it could be lowered to the ground to allow him to play with his children on their level. Bill said he developed the chair to allow handicapped people to better enjoy outdoor activities. In January of 1987 Billy became sick and was diagnosed as having a tumor as big as a football in and around his pancreas, he was getting better but contracted the flu and he passed in August of that year.


Matthew James

about 1 year ago

Thanks for finding and posting this - I was pretty close friends with one of his sons growing up and the different places shown in that video brought back quite a few memories.

Grant K

about 1 year ago

Hi Matthew,
I am one of Bill's sons. While I knew a couple of Matthews growing up, I'm not sure who you are. I'd like to reconnect if it's possible.

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