Don Reinhoudt, who won the 1979 World’s Strongest Man competition, died following a car crash in upstate New York earlier this week.
He was 78.
New York State police announced earlier this week that Reinhoudt veered off the shoulder of a road in Pomfret on Monday and struck a tree.
After he was transported to Brooks Memorial Hospital, Reinhoudt was pronounced dead.
The fatal wreck remained under investigation as of Wednesday’s announcement.
Reinhoudt, who also won the World Powerlifting Superheavyweight Championship four straight years from 1973-76, was remembered as a gentle man.
“Don, to me, was always the gentle giant with those hands of his that were like baseball mitts,” his widow, Pamela Reinhoudt, told The Post-Journal. “But if you wanted to ever feel truly safe in life, that’s where you wanted to be having those big mits of his wrapped around you.
“That comes from somewhere so deep inside. I think some people are naturally just born to have that character trait of true goodness and I think Don was one of those rare individuals who had it, and somehow throughout his life he just found a way to enhance it and do it for the better good.”
He was inducted into seven Hall of Fames, according to his obituary, including the USA National Hall of Fame for Powerlifting, the World Powerlifting Hall of Fame and the New York State Strength and Power Hall of Fame.
In addition to Pamela, Reinhoudt is survived by his sister, Miriam, children Molly and Benjamin, and grandchildren Lukasz and Zofia.
According to his obituary, Reinhoudt served as Executive Director of the Chautauqua County Youth Bureau for 25 years until his retirement in 2009.
“Don could have been anything he wanted to be because of his cache in the world of powerlifting,” Randy Anderson, president of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, said.
“But what did he choose to do? He chose to stay in Chautauqua County and work with the youth of our county. Talk about a guy who had his priorities in order.”