R.I.P. William Thomas, kid’s bike mechanic extraordinaire

William at Free Ride’s Kid’s Bike Build-a-Thon

May 1, 1926 – June 25, 2009

I just found out some bad news.  William Thomas, a frequenter at Free Ride, is no longer with us.  He died on Thursday from complications due to pneumonia.

When William started coming into Free Ride to obtain bikes and parts to fix up for kids in need, he would always drag the goods to the front, then pull out his wallet and flash a Kraynick’s Bike Shop business card to whoever was working – his pass to get free parts.  Everyone knew what he was up to, and gladly obliged.

After awhile, he became a regular character at the shop, and would brag about how many bikes he fixed up and gave away, hundreds a year, often putting us to shame.  Although always modest, I think he liked to show off a little bit to fellow tinkerers.  He would also take some of the bikes that were donated to us, fix them up, and give them back to make it easier for us to give them away.  We always knew when William fixed up a bike because any rusty part or rim would be meticulously painted silver.  This detail was a small deed for a guy with a heart of gold.

William, you will be missed.  I think everybody in the shop has said that they aspire to be like him in their golden years.  You truly were an inspiration to us all.

Here is a nice obituary from the Post-Gazette.

It goes into more detail about the generosity and energy of this amazing man.

William and Andalusia in Free Ride

1 Comment

  • mac says:

    Oh that is so sad. They just don’t make ’em like William any more.
    From the obituary:
    Mrs. Williams said she visited her friend in the intensive care unit and told him how much she admired him for helping others.

    “You know what he said to me? He reached his hand out and held my hand. He said, ‘Georgianne, don’t destroy my reputation, that of an old grouch.’ He said that with a twinkle in his eye.”

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