Lisa Padur, Arlen Witter, and Bret Lewis.
(Photo: Friends of Bret Lewis)
Bret Lewis, the man who was hit and killed while attempting to cross Tualatin Valley Highway one week ago today, left behind a community of friends in Beaverton.
Bret was an Oregon native, who spent most of his life in Beaverton. He has worked several jobs over the years, including one five-year stint for the Sub Station on SW Broadway where he delivered sandwiches by bike, pedaling the same streets that ended up claiming his life.
He was married once and had two sons, Leo and Max (Max died of leukemia just last year). He is survived by Leo and his father, mother, and sister. Bret had a close-knit circle of friends he considered to be his family.
I’ve met several of those friends in the past week, some of them via email and others during a visit to the crash scene yesterday.
Yvonne Boeckel knew Bret for 12 years. She said he was very social and loved having friends over. “He loved to hang out and he was a very gracious host. He was actually on his way to a friend’s house when he was hit.”
Yvonne met Bret through her friend Lisa Padur. I met Lisa yesterday. She was very close to Bret. The two used to be romantically involved and they remained friends. Yesterday, sobbing by the side of the road, she said, “He was going to take care of me when I got old.”
Bret treated Lisa’s son, Arlen Pierce Witter (in photo) like his own (Arlen’s father Jim Witter was a close friend of Bret’s). Bret played an important role in Arlen’s life, friends told me, “treating him like a son.” It was among these friends that Bret found family. The four of them made up an “unconventional” family unit, wrote one of his friends via email…
It was with this “unconventional family unit” that he spent the last months of his short life, enjoying the football season (he was an avid Vikings fan) and the Holidays, all five together, for the first time.
Lisa Padur put together the following tribute to Bret…
Bret was first and foremost “A Lover”.
He was a lover of “Music”, the kind that made you feel.
He was a lover of “Art”, both expression of his own creative talent as well as appreciation of others’.
He was a lover of “Beauty”, in all of its forms (the simpler the better).
He loved the “Lovers” (and loathed the “Haters”).
He made his own path, preferring to live outside the “Mainstream”.
He had a “weathered” exterior, which was barely large enough to contain the warmth and greatness of his soft heart and loving soul.
He was a great and giving host, who’s first thought, was to please others, sharing all that he had to offer.
His idea of a “Good Day” would include: an outdoor fire with good friends, a good smoke & a P.B.R.
A “Great Day” might include a burger and fries at Ringo’s [a local bar] as well!
Bret lived one day at a time, each being a struggle.
This being said, his creativity and motivation were ever-present.
He will be sorely missed… but forever loved.
Goodbye my friend, my brother, my love.
Another one of Bret’s close friends is Tedd Briggs. He shared this poem the night after the crash…
A Loving soul… lost
by Ted Briggs on Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 12:10am
Tonight the life of an unlikely friend was cut short… too short..
He was a loving, caring and kind hearted man. a loving soul. Our friendship was long overdue, yet unlikely. I am grateful that he was a big enough man to allow me into his life at all…I did not have enough time to know him as well as I would have liked to. He LOVED… & that, No one could be faulted for… in his heart I hope that he knew he was LOVED by those he loved and maybe some he would not have expected to…
He was my friend, however unlikely, for this I am grateful, and my heart goes out to all who loved him and were loved by him….
You will be missed more than I fear you knew. R.I.P. – B.L.
Yesterday, Lisa was still grappling with how her friend was suddenly gone. I met her at the scene of the crash that ended Bret’s life.
More than anything, what I took away from Lisa’s words — which often came through uncontrollable sobs while being comforted by friend Ted Briggs — was frustration. She was frustrated at how dangerous the road is in that location and she was frustrated at the way the crash was portrayed by the police and the media.
She also implored us (I was there with my friend and West Side correspondent Jim Parsons) to understand that Bret was an expert, experienced, and safe rider.
Crying, she said, “He wouldn’t just be stopped in the lane! The way they made it sound, he was just waiting right in the middle of the road.. Waiting for someone to run him down!”
Lisa also shared that Bret was frequently hassled by the Beaverton Police Department. Speaking of her concerns for the thoroughness of their investigation, she said, “Our friends came out that night and twenty minutes after it happened there was nothing on the street… Like it had never happened. I just want some answers.”
A large crowd of Bret’s friends are expected to join bike and traffic safety advocates for a vigil tonight starting at 4:30 pm at the intersection of SW Tualaway and TV Highway.