July 17, 2012
Yesterday, June Curry, an amazing woman and a hero to many thousands of cyclists worldwide, passed away at the age of 91. June's story has been told many times but here's the snapshot:
Living in her home near the small town of Afton, VA, on the slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, June was going about her normal routine in the summer of 1976 when she noticed an unusual number of cyclists passing her home going up and down the incline. Being a courteous person, she put out her garden hose for cyclists to fill up their water bottles. Being a social person, June learned that these cyclists were part of a phenomenon known as Bikecentennial. Eventually, she started supplying the riders with snacks and home-baked cookies (the reason she was dubbed the "Cookie Lady"). Then June took the momentous leap to re-purpose a building next to her home as an overnight stop-over for traveling cyclists. The "Bike House" had places to sleep, a full kitchen, and loads of cycling memorabilia and Polaroid photos of visiting cyclists. (There are some good pictures of June and the Bike House in this article in Nelson County Life.)
For more than three decades, June hosted thousands of cyclists from all over the planet. Her generosity was so great that we named our first formal bike-travel award in her honor, the June Curry "Trail Angel" Award, recognizing an individual or group that goes the extra mile (or ten) to help traveling cyclists.
Three years ago, I had the pleasure of riding from Charlottesville, VA to Afton for the purpose of visiting June and thanking her in person for all that she had done. When I arrived, she gave me another gift -- her warm spirit and her many memories of visiting cyclists. The beautiful thing about June and her recollections is that they weren't about her -- they were about all that the cyclists meant to her, how much joy and energy she got from serving them as they traveled under their own power across America. A trail angel, indeed -- we will miss her greatly.
We learned this afternoon that two remembrances are planned to honor June: An "Open Room" on Thursday, July 19 at the Reynolds Hamrick Funeral Home in Waynesboro, VA from 9 am to 5 pm, and a graveside service on Friday, July 20 at 11:00 am at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Greenwood, VA. We will post more information here as we get it, and you can track the latest news at Bike Charlottesville.
We will also run a special feature on June in the next issue of Adventure Cyclist.
Thanks June, for all you did for so many people in the heart of the Blue Ridge. We hope and trust there is someone waiting for you with warm cookies at the entry to bicycle heaven.
Photo: Jim Sayer with June Curry in June 2009 on the porch of June's home in Afton, VA.