One of the hardest working pairs of Ghisallo wood rim wheels sit quietly on my friend Phil’s bike in Sandpoint, Idaho.
400 hundred people gathered to say goodbye to Phil Role on a recent sunny Sunday in prime riding weather. Phil would have been pleased by the turnout and especially by those who proudly wore the local bike club jersey. The same one draped over his bike on the stage.
Phil and I met in college and spent 4 years forging a strong friendship. After college we went our separate ways but reconnected over the years, in large part, because of Phil’s magnetic pull. He was the center of a constellation of friends from all his various interests and I was glad to be included.
Phil was an Easterner born and bred, but he married a westerner Mary Catherine Streiff and, after medical school, made his home in the Northwest. At the memorial many people commented how he lived life to the fullest, taking advantage of all the Northwest and especially Sandpoint offered. He loved great food and wine because it fueled family, cycling, skiing, flying, river rafting, and his community building style.
After college we reconnected especially over bikes. On the stage at his memorial was the bike, built by Gene Agbayani, that I designed while working at Triple E Cyclery in Mountain View, CA in 1974. The shop name stood for “ecology, economy and exercise.” Phil proved the name true by pulling me around an icy loop by beautiful Lake Pend Oreille one recent Thanksgiving on that bike.
My, my, Phil and that bike. Thirty-four years, give or take, of riding and racing. As people said at the service, this was his good bike, the “one he stored inside.” I was happy to see the long defunct store’s logo t-shirt also draped over his bike frame last Sunday.
Philip Role fought a long and courageous battle against Multiple Myeloma and died at home with his family around him on Friday morning June 11, 2010. It was an honor to have him as a friend and too-occasional riding companion.
Phil’s unofficial obituary.