A friend of mine was buried Tuesday in West Bend. Lee Rich was killed when the motorcycle he was riding was hit by an inattentive driver who ran a stop sign while talking on her cell phone.
I met Lee back when I was in 7th grade, 42 years ago. I was friends with his younger brother, Russ, and so I would go to their home and listen to albums, especially the Beatles, which was Lee's favorite group.
Lee had a temper. Most of Russ' friends would walk softly around Lee to ensure they did not become targets of his wrath. Consequently I didn't get to know Lee very well during my youth.
I would see him at family get-togethers and camping trips, but not much else. But there was one thing that was apparent to me as the years went by ... Lee was changing.
Lee became sober 19 years ago. He joined A.R.M (Association Recovering Motorcyclists) thirteen years ago and was active in that group until the end of life.
How did I know this?
Well, first, I have to admit that I was stunned when I saw the huge turnout at the funeral home. Like I said, I did not know what Lee had been up to, but there were a lot of people, much more that I thought would appear, who obviously thought highly of Lee. Highly enough to come and honor his life on a sad, dreary day.
After speaking with members of Lee's family and other mutual friends of mine, I spoke to a number of members of his other family. I did not know that Lee was active in sponsoring those who were tring to get clean. One woman, in tears, said Lee was responsble for her son's five years of sobriety. That without Lee, her son might have died too young. This refrain was repeated over and over. I'm sad to say I did not know Lee at all.
Afterword, I was off by myself thinking of what I had heard and I realized that I hoped that someday when I pass on it might be said I had done much good, just like it was said of Lee.
My condolences to all Lee's family members. The world is a lesser place without Lee.
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