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Chris Kegel’s life and legacy honored at National Bike Summit
Chris, who recently passed away, left a legacy of hard work, genuine kindness, and a deep commitment to making communities better places by getting more people to ride bicycles. To celebrate Chris, who served as Chair of League Board of Directors, the League will posthumously bestow the Paul Dudley White award during the National Bike Summit.
Eric Swanson, long time member of the Board of Directors and Treasurer, commented “Chris Kegel made significant contributions to cycling at the national, local, and personal level. The Paul Dudley White award honors those who, through their personal commitments, have made a significant contribution to the cycling movement and the opportunities of everyone to enjoy the benefit of cycling. I can’t think of a more deserving person than Chris.”
Gail Copus Spann, Vice-Chair of the League Board remembered Chris for his commitment to cycling and his tenacity and grace during his illness from cancer. “The Paul Dudley White award is the highest honor the League bestows on an individual. Our joy at the way Chris lived his life is tempered by our deep sadness because he will not be with us as we celebrate his accomplishments.”
Tim Blumenthal, President of PeopleForBikes accompanied Chis to the meetings with President Bush and candidate Obama. “In every meeting, our objective was to inform the President (or President-to-be) about the U.S. bicycle industry, the growing popularity of bicycling in the United States, and the key opportunities to make bicycling better and more popular. Chris, who was always especially calm and collected in these meetings, stood out. He was a true leader who was comfortable wherever he went.”
Richard Killingsworth, former League Board member and friend of Chris, remembered him as “an amazing man, humble at heart, noble in spirit, and generous beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. He was always carrying that little Robert’s Rules of Order with him to every Board meeting and he used it like a wizard. He was an incredible Board chair, but more importantly always a model for doing the right thing.”
Shortly after Chris passed away, John Burke, President of Trek Bikes, told Bicycle Retailers and Industry News (BRAIN) “Chris was a guy whose legacy will live on and grow as time passes. There are very few people you can say that about.” Burke went on to say, “Kegel was an ‘idea man’ and a great listener and teacher. He taught me the value of listening to a customer. He built a great business and he built it one customer at a time. In advocacy, Chris taught me to build bridges and to make friends. And he taught me about hard work. You couldn’t go to a bike event in Wisconsin and not see Chris there pumping up tires and shaking hands and telling stories.”
Pat Cunnane, President and CEO of Advanced Sports International (ASI), wrote in an e-mail “Chris was a force behind aligning bike advocates with the bike industry. His dedication to making cycling safer and more accessible was both successful and inspiring. I always looked forward to his insightful analysis and practical recommendations in dealing with the challenge of the moment.
With his big cheerful smile, Chris was well-known by residents of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and far beyond. In Wisconsin, September 25 was officially declared “Chris Kegel Day” and culminated in a slow-roll ride that brought together over 1,000 cyclists of all ages. Chris was awarded an honorary degree in business by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, for his extensive work in bike retail.
The Board of Directors of the League of American Bicyclists invites you to join us in celebrating the life of Chris Kegel. We hope you will be inspired in your work by Chris’s commitment to building a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.
Karen Jenkins is Chair of the League Board of Directors