Well-lived life remembered
By JEsse Phelps
A bicycle race is in progress
when a crash occurs. In a split second, a decision is made to
swerve. The tragic and unintended consequence is a head-on collision.
Such were the final moments in the life of Garrett Lemire, 21,
as he participated in the Tucson Bicycle Classic on March 16.
Lemire's family and friends are left to celebrate the life of
a young man they characterize as independent, thoughtful, deep,
"He used to laugh. He was just always happy. He always made
people laugh," remembers his sister, Alicia.
"We'd go in for coffee and he'd have 20-minute conversations
with the clerk," says Janae Oschain, the love of Lemire's
life. "Anywhere he went, people just wanted to talk to him
and pick up that vibe."
Lemire loved to smile and he also loved to play music and sports.
"He played almost every instrument," his father, Art,
Garrett would hear a catchy song and seek out an instrument to
play it on. "He was actually able to hear it and figure
it out," says Lemire's mother, Sally. The two remember frequent
occasions where Lemire's steps going upstairs would turn back
down when a good song came on until the piano or the guitar could
be heard doing a rendition.
As a student at Villanova, Lemire played water polo, basketball
and baseball. A promising pitching prospect and shortstop, Lemire
opted not to play college ball, instead focusing more on his
beloved bike riding.
Ryan Yee and Blake Haggerty were Lemire's best friends. They
bonded over mountain bikes in junior high school. "We all
ended up getting bikes at the bike shop down the way," says
Yee. "It was our home away from home."
The three began by attempting to conquer Foothill Road on their
mountain bikes and later, Yee and Lemire began road racing as
a form of cross-training. That led to entering in road races
almost every weekend over the last couple of years. "Riding
up Foothill was like the biggest challenge ever for us. Now we
ride four, five, six hours, something like that," says Yee.
Road racing is divided into five categories, with Category One
riders being sponsored professionals. Lemire was a Category Two
rider on the verge of a sponsorship with KB Homes. "Within
the next month or two, he would have been a One," says Yee.
"He was on his way. I'd never seen him so focused."
"He took off this semester to devote himself to cycling
and go pro. That was his goal," says Oschain.
An international affairs major as a junior at UCLA, Lemire began
his collegiate career at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
He was dedicated vegetarian, political thinker and animal rights
Haggerty and Yee remember Lemire as the most thoughtful member
of their three-man crew. "Garrett was someone I could always
rely on to bail me out of trouble," says Haggerty. "He
was definitely more of the responsible one. He always was the
one to give me a little sense because I definitely lack a lot
But Lemire's sense of duty extended to far more than getting
his buddies out of minor scrapes. When his father was waiting
for a liver transplant, says Sally, "Garrett just pulled
His father agrees. "They called for transplant three times
and it didn't come through. The one time it actually happened,
he took over and controlled my position. He took care of the
house and he made sure everything was OK. He was only 16,"
"He stayed with me. He wanted to make sure I was OK,"
Sally continues. "He'd stay with me in LA and then he'd
drive up an get to class. He was amazing. He's a compassionate
Art remembers that compassion being applied to anyone, anywhere.
"He would stop and talk to anybody. An old man on the street,
he'd ask him something and he'd stay there and talk to him. He
was sincere about it. He wanted to know what the person was doing,
how they felt. It wasn't just out of courtesy," he says.
Lemire also loved to travel, to seek new adventures. As soon
as the first of the guys got his license, says Yee, "It
was over." The three went to New York, Mexico, Big Bear,
Big Sur, among other places.
His independent spirit took Lemire far, even in his youth. One
time he and Yee got lost in eighth grade trying to ride their
bikes to Santa Barbara. "We got a call from the ranger station.
Ranger Deke, on his horseback, found these two guys waiting at
this little shack," says Art.
Having left early in the morning, the boys weren't discovered
until 6 p.m. out in the hills. It was one of many adventures
the friends undertook together, which built in them the confidence
to follow their passion, to live life on their own terms.
But "They weren't allowed to go out without a cell phone
again," says Sally.
She says it's a consolation that her son passed away while enjoying
his passion. "He died doing what he loved, right up until
the very end," she says.
Lemire will be remembered on Saturday, starting with a memorial
bike ride with friends and members of the KB Homes team, which
Lemire was soon to join. The ride will start at the family home
on Foothill Road and conclude at Meditation Mount, where family
and friends will celebrate a life well-lived at 1 p.m.
The Ojai Valley News
to the news