In 1979, a reporter had some fun with Charles Wetherall's many careers: "He's been a charter boat captain, photographer, writer, inventor, publisher, designer — and sometimes several at once."

Wetherall went on to add more titles to the list. Among them: day-trader, world traveler, grandfather.

But he was perhaps best-known as the author of a book on how to quit smoking. Published in 1980, the paperback was just 3½ by 2¼ inches — the size of a pack of cigarettes.

"It was a really great idea, if I do say so myself," Wetherall told the Star Tribune in 1981.

A lifelong Minneapolis resident who at one point designed the signs for the city's skyways, Wetherall died July 26 of cancer. He was 76.

The youngest of four siblings, Wetherall was "into everything and up for any challenge," said Eloise Wetherall, his sister. In grade school, he often climbed to the top of Central High School, wedging his fingers and toes between the bricks. He once got fed up with summer camp, so he hitchhiked home.

Each night, Charlie's father, Emmett, brought a dictionary to his children's beds, having them learn a new word, Eloise said. When Wetherall turned in an essay to his grade-school teacher titled "I Emulate My Older Brothers," she gave him an F, sure he had copied the piece.

She must have thought, "obviously this little kid doesn't know the word 'emulate,' " Eloise recalled. "But of course, he did. Charlie had incredible language skills."

Wetherall's broadcast career began in Glasgow, Mont., where he worked as the news director of KLTZ, a radio station broadcasting 250 watts, "only slightly more powerful than shouting into tin cans linked by a string," he joked. He quickly found his way back to Minnesota, starting a University of Minnesota journalism degree he would pause, restart and complete 12 years later. He wrote for TV stations and newspapers before moving into public relations.

"Public relations is an exciting, rewarding business," he told a Skyway News reporter in 1979, "but I'm a restless sort of person, and sometimes I like to … pursue my own ideas. I like most of all to make new things happen. I don't always accomplish that, but a good part of the time, I do."

Wetherall smoked a pack a day for 20 years before quitting, an experience that launched his idea for "Quit: Read This Book and Stop Smoking." He struggled to find a publisher willing to print a miniature book, "so he had to take it into his own hands," said his son, Marty Wetherall, director of innovation at the ad agency Fallon.

He published "Quit" himself, getting it into bookstores after the New York Times Review of Books billed it as "the smallest book currently on the market." Within 18 months, more than 200,000 copies had sold at $1.95 each, according to the 1981 article. The tiny books, wrapped in cellophane, were packaged to look just like a pack of cigarettes, with a surgeon general's warning on the side.

Marty remembers helping his father fold by hand the boxes that would display the books at the cash registers. He also recalls him attending every one of his baseball games and taking him to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. He passed along a love of running, completing 18 marathons. He still holds the family record, Marty said, finishing Grandma's Marathon in less than three hours.

"Whatever he did, he kind of overdid," Eloise said. "He threw himself into things with a vengeance.

"And I think that's why he was such a success."

In 2004, Wetherall began working with a would-be author struggling to find a publisher willing to break the rules. Bob MacDonald, the retired CEO of Allianz, wanted to write a book called "Cheat to Win: The Honest Way to Break All the Dishonest Rules in Business." Other writers "were afraid of the title," MacDonald said. But Wetherall "immediately understood what I was trying to do."

Wetherall helped write, edited and eventually published the book, and MacDonald wanted to give him credit, he said. But Wetherall insisted that the cover byline say "without" rather than "with" Charles F. Wetherall. "That was the way he was," MacDonald said.

After retiring, Wetherall used his day-trading earnings to travel, using a laptop to monitor the stock market and blog about his adventures in Cuba, Mexico, Dubai.

In addition to his son and sister, Wetherall's survivors include a brother, Robert, and two granddaughters. Services have been held.