South Salem Cycleworks: Salem, Oregon
(503) 480-2001
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November 9, 2021: Paul Nesbit, a remembrance

Paul Nesbit, my stepfather, passed away at home of heart disease on Feb. 19, 2021. He was 92, surviving to an age older than any of his relatives, he liked to state.

Paul Nesbit ready to drive a support car for the Reach the Beach Ride.

While he was born in Iowa Falls, Iowa, and raised there in the Midwest, he moved to Oregon in 1952, making him more of an Oregonian than many of us. Many of his Midwest traits continued with Paul, however. He was a hard worker, believed one should fix things himself and be productive. He undertook projects like rebuilding the west deck of their house just two years ago. It was with great frustration on his part that he let someone else do something he did in his somewhat younger years.

He never tired of telling of his life in the Midwest. The narrow escapes with death involving autos on icy roads, stepping into a peat field that was on fire, evading a tornado, and many others. He was very fond of relating his times at the roller rink where he was an enthusiastic participant, buying the latest skates and shoes of the time. Cracking the whip and lighting match sticks while being swung at the end was not beyond him. While living in Oregon, he transferred that same energy to snow and water skiing.

Paul's roller skates.

A trip to Costco for a few groceries would turn into a many-hour-event, as he enjoyed sampling the food booths and meeting people. It wasn’t as much the necessity to shop as an opportunity to meet people, for Paul loved to jaw.

In 2004, Paul met my mother while round-dancing and square-dancing, something they both enjoyed for many years. He soon became very involved in the workings of South Salem Cycleworks – and not just bringing coffee, and sometimes donuts, to the crew on Saturday mornings.

Not just donuts...

He ran errands for the little things from the hardware store for an unusual repair, maintenance for the shop and getting office supplies. He often cleaned the restrooms and made sure supplies were for them were on hand. He replaced several fluorescent light fixtures with high intensity versions, and later, with LED fixtures when they became readily available. He assisted in designing and installing funnels and hoses to empty the buckets from the leaky bathtub roof in the back half of the building.

As we never had a dumpster nor garbage service in the entire span of the shop’s operation, he began taking the non-recyclable and organic debris home to add to his collection bins.

A load of metal to take to recycling

When Marion County began accepting fluorescent bulbs for free recycling, Paul began taking them there. The shop nearly earned a first place in an early version of the Green Awards competition, until we learned that business, no matter how small, was supposed to pay for a service to recycle fluorescent bulbs. We did win the Green Awards Recycler of the Year Award in 2015, with Paul playing an important part in achieving that.

Here we all are after winning the Green Award. Paul is second from the right, next to me.

Paul also served as a support vehicle, driving the Subaru with a passel of bikes on the roof rack to allow us a jumpstart on our annual version of Reach the Beach.

We constructed a fence along the north edge of the parking lot, but over time, some of the posts rotted at the base. One remedy was putting a metal holder in the ground, which left the post wobbly. Sure enough, a winter’s gale afterwards pushed the fence over at that junction.

Fence is down

The fallen fence.

Paul brought a large carjack and managed to remove the metal holder.

Paul removing fence post

Here's Paul removing the stubborn fence post.

We had a large number of refurbished bikes that we lined up out front of the store which took about 45 minutes to put out and later, bring in.

Here are the bikes lined up in front of the store.

Paul often did both each day, a welcome break for me, as I could deliver packages to FedEx or UPS without the worry of an employee being late or getting tied up with an early customer. I’d often return to find Paul engaged in a conversation with a customer, telling tales of the Midwest or just giving advice.

I'm off to make deliveries while Paul puts out the bikes.

Paul was instrumental in helping empty the storefront after I’d decided not to buy the property. I’d recovered from the chemo treatment, but had suffered a knee injury that left me on crutches.

Getting the shop ready to close.

Due to the emotional level of a pending divorce, I’d moved to my folks. I was unable to drive, as it was my right knee, and Paul drove me to the shop assisting with the packing and moving of inventory repeatedly. He used the van to haul a lot of inventory to the new destination, or retrieved needed supplies to continue with the evacuation.

Early on, Paul began riding my mother’s Motobecane mixte down to the shop early in the morning to take out the line of refurbished bikes. My mother had given up riding it, feeling uncomfortable with balance and traffic issues. He was there one day when a customer was test-riding a tadpole recumbent trike and had to try it himself. After one ride, he immediately went home and brought my mother in to test ride one. I consequently ordered a pair of the trikes for them, and I’m thankful for the many hours they spent riding them in various parts of the state. They later upgraded to Greenspeeds that folded, allowing them to take them to Arizona in the Honda minivan to visit my sister many times. Paul rode his Greenspeed on Monster Cookie one year, and while not the fastest, he did finish the metric century. Impressive achievement for a man with an ailing heart!

At one point, my folks became caretakers for a great-grandson, and I remember Paul riding his Greenspeed around the interior of the garage with Julian riding a bike with training wheels.

Young Julian and Paul riding in the garage.

While Julian never lacked for bikes, he spent many hours riding on a Burley Piccolo attached to either Paul’s or my mom’s recumbent trikes. Paul was usually the choice, as my mom often had Bonnie, her dog, riding in a rack pack behind her! As the picture shows, they would ride in all kinds of weather!

Bike ride in cold weather

Bundled up for a cold day's ride.

While it’s been three years since the shop was emptied, it’s easy to pass by on an early morning and imagine Paul bringing out the bikes or capturing an early customer in an extended exchange of storytelling. He will be missed.

Here are more pictures of Paul:

Paul riding on the Peter Courtney Minto Island Bridge in Salem, Oregon.

A proper reward for some hard work.

Paul taking a tired Julian home with Julian's bike stashed on the back of the trike.

Paul at home on a trike trainer.

Paul, Julian and Mom on trikes.

Another shot of Paul, Mom & Julian

Here I am (standing, on right) with Paul and Mom and on the left, my brother Pat Wolfe.

Paul, Julian and Mom ready to go for a ride. Note the very stylish dog in Mom's bike bag.

Paul with his trike with a Piccolo 2 trailer bike for Julian attached.