December 31, 2007

We'll miss you Gerry

How quickly things change. The man I spoke about only this morning has passed away. Gerry had gone to the hospital with severe chest pain a couple of weeks ago. It turned out he had pneumonia and was put on a ventilator. When his blood work came back, he was diagnosed with leukemia. He left us yesterday on his 71st birthday.

Gerry was so full of life it is hard to believe he is gone. I was fortunate enough to meet him last July when I went on the Big Ride Pacific Coast. Gerry was a veteran of these fund-raising rides, and he welcomed us newbies with open arms. I very fortunate to ride with him for much of the second week and really get to know him. He had done the ride a couple years previously, and always knew where the next ice cream shop was. My wife got to meet him at the finish line in San Francisco, and latched on to him immediately.

I rode with Gerry again this year on the Big Ride Glacier trip. He helped to talk me into this ride, and I am so glad he did. It was another wonderful experience, and I got to meet more of his riding friends. Gerry did the Ride Across America a couple of times, so his circle of friends is large and spread throughout the country. I know he was an avid skier as well, so I know there are many more great friends of his I haven't met.

Gerry welcomed so many people into that special heart of his. He was full of positive energy and always had a child-like twinkle in his eyes. I am a much better man having known him and the world was a better place with him around. I am so glad you came into my life, and I will miss seeing you out on the road. I'll just plain miss you.



You can see the slide show full size here.

10 comments:

Lo said...

Sean,
Thanks so much for putting together the slideshow. Viewing it, and reading your message, were the perfect ways to begin to deal with what I'm going through.
I feel very lucky that I had the chance to get to know Gerry a little bit the past couple years on BRPC, BRG, the Tour de Blast, etc.
Gerry was a good man and a wonderful friend. I miss him already.
-Lo

Holly said...

So sorry for your loss Sean. The tribute is really nice. It's amazing the impact people can make in our lives, and that we still meet new and amazing people all the time. This opens our hearts up to loss and pain. Obviously worth it. To Gerry!

Catherine Walker said...

Sean, thank you for your eloquent and picturesque tribute to Gerry. David and I rode the Big Ride 2004 with Gerry, and are forever grateful for his persistently sunny disposition! Gerry was one of the most positive, joy-filled persons I have met. Every day on a bike was a good day for Gerry, regardless of the conditions. His humor and good spirits motivated me through some tough days on the bike!
We extend our deepest sympathies to Catherine and to all of Gerry's family and friends.
Catherine Walker & David Fuqua

Jeff Moran said...

Scott,
I rode the 2003 Big Ride with Gerry. He was one of the many reasons that ride was so fun. He was always so positive and just a great inspiration. I'll miss him a lot. Thanks for the kind words.
Cheers
Jeff Moran
2003 Big Rider

Anonymous said...

I too rode with Gerry in the 2004 Big Ride. I will truly miss Gerry's great big smile and constant encouragement.
In January of 2005 Gerry took me snow sking in Steven's Pass. I broke my leg that day sking. Gerry not only carried me into the ski clinic, but put me in the back of his car and calmed me with kind words for our hour long trip down the mountain to the best Seattle hospital he knew. I am forever grateful and blessed to have had such a great friend!
Kacy Stallman

Anonymous said...

I first met Gerry during the prep meetings for Big Ride Across America 2004. I peppered him with questions both at the meetings and via email about what to pack, what not to pack, etc., and he was always willing and enthusiastic about answering me.

Many people have mentioned the twinkle in his eye, and that's evident in many of these pictures. And his seemingly super-human ability to find ice cream was legendary, and made many a ride even more enhjoyable. Gerry was a dear friend and I will miss him greatly, but his memory will join me on many future rides.

Scott McNeill
BRAA 2004 - #21
BRG 2007 - #23

Zach said...

Dearest Jerry ... We will miss you ... I rode with you on BR2004 and was very glad to see you just a month or so ago at a mini renuion brunch here is a short video clip of that brunch:

http://papa.poemy.net/2007_Brunch_With_BR2004_Riders/

Zach

Anonymous said...

Gerry lived on Whidbey Island amongst a really large group of friends, both cycling and non! He encouraged everyone to participate in cycling, and kept us all upbeat and happy with his winning and cheerful personality. The loss of Gerry has left a hole in our hearts. We will miss him everyday. I'm sure he is still riding . . .

Anton Preisinger said...

This news is shocking and so sad. I would not have gotten to participate in the 2003 Big Ride if it were not for Gerry. I was in college and fell just short of the $5000 when Gerry kindly (and quietly) offered to take up the difference so that I could participate. He was a generous, thoughtful, fun and energetic man that I will miss and remember very fondly,
He'll be in my prayers along with his family,

Anton Preisinger
2003 Big Rider (Thanks to Gerry)

Tony Cottrell said...

I just spent a few moments looking back on my pictures from the 2003 Big Ride. In every picture of Gerry, he had this radiant, cheerful smile that he is known for. The Big Ride brings many challenging days, and I remember that even on the toughest days, you could find Gerry with a big old smile on his face and some encouraging words of wisdom.

I still have the Christmas card that Gerry sent to me the year after our Big Ride. In the card, Gerry wrote the following:

"May All Your Rides Be Safe and Smooth."

Thank You Gerry.


Tony Cottrell
Big Ride 2003
Winston Salem, NC