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Friends remember Steve Gitchell

Posted by on January 23rd, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Steve Gitchell, 1949-2013.
(Photo: Ira Ryan Cycles/Flickr)

Steve Gitchell, a man well-known locally for his friendly demeanor and love of riding bikes, passed away on January 15th. According to the Oregon Herald, he was found in his home in Newberg by a neighbor and his death is believed to have been from natural causes. I didn’t know Steve personally, but I distinctly remember his on-the-bike style, his classy, long mustache, and his gorgeous Pereira Cycles randonneuring bike. He was 64 years old.

Portland resident Theo Elliot counted Steve as a friend and shared memories and photos of him on Flickr. Theo met him three years ago on the train en route to a Oregon Randonneurs event. It was a 200 km brevet, Theo recalled, which is short by randonneuring standards. “He would tell me,” Theo recalled on the phone today, “That he’s too old to have to prove himself on 600 km events.”

Many people knew Steve for his two bikes; an orange Ira Ryan and his Pereira. According to Theo, Steve was an Oregon native who lived in northwest Portland until moving to small house in Newberg a few months ago. “He wanted to live in the country,” Theo said.

Theo remembered Steve’s stories from the Vietnam War (where he served) and how he was always friendly, engaged, and interested in whatever they talked about. Before retiring, Steve was a garbage man with a route in the Milwaukie and Sellwood areas. “He was proud of his work,” Theo recalled, “we remember him as a ‘bad-ass garbage man’.”

Steve's Pereira!
Steve and his prized Pereira.
(Photo: James Wilson/Flickr)

Theo and several other friends — including Steve’s stepson Draeger who was in town from New York to settle Steve’s affairs — got together for a Steve Gitchell Memorial Ride on Sunday.

Steve appeared in a story here on BikePortland back in April 2009 as one of the happy new residents of a bike-friendly condominium in northwest Portland. He told our writer Marion Rice that he’d been riding bikes since 1972 and hoped to someday ride in the Paris-Brest-Paris.

I’ve heard from several people in the past few days that knew of Steve, his trademark mustache, and his custom bikes. He must have ridden a lot because he seemed to pop up in all sort of places. As is often the case, now many of those people (including myself) wish they’d gotten to know him better.

Rest in peace Steve.

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Comments
  • K'Tesh January 23, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Didn’t ever get a chance to meet him, but he sounds like he would have been a good person to know. Rest In Peace

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  • Sunny January 23, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    I find it odd that he died having only recently moved to Newberg in the past few weeks. The Oregon Herald also mentioned he had a significant amount of cash in his home. Could it have been foul play?

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    • Sunny January 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      Or maybe he had an underlying medical condition and wanted to experience the country lifestyle before he went.

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  • David Feldman January 24, 2013 at 7:31 am

    I remember Steve as a customer when I worked at Bike Gallery and also for one amusing ride incident–we were in a group going through Winlock during a late-1980′s STP ride when we had to stop so that the Winlock Egg Parade (they still do that?) came through town. If you cycle or take the train north from Longview you’ll see Winlock’s giant egg.
    Steve was also into “ink” way ahead of his time! RIP pal.

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  • Kelly January 24, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Steve Gitchell was an amazing man. He was one of our favorite customers at Caffe Destino. He would come in most days for a latte after one of his long rides. I always loved to hear what he had acomplished in just a
    mornings time. He had a charming wit, beautiful laughter and a positive attitude about life. I will miss him dearly.

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  • Evan January 25, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I had the pleasure of chatting with Steve while out on a ride once. He was a kind fellow with a love for cycling, rest in peace.

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  • Trista February 19, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    I grew up knowing Steve as he was a close family friend. I always called him Uncle Steve. He was one of the coolest guys I knew. Although I haven’t had contact with him for many years, I feel like I lost a member of my family. Rest in peace Uncle Steve!

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