Jack De Vries

  “It’s the Journey, Not the Destination.” And for Jack J. De Vries, age 83, former Bellingham resident, founder and owner of Jack’s Bicycle Center, any journey on his bicycle was what life was all about. Jack has now gone to Paradise where he may ride forever and ever. Jack passed away on Sept. 11, 2018, at Pacifica Senior Living in Peoria, Arizona. He had been a resident of Sun City, Arizona, since 2002.

  Jack was born John J. De Vries on Nov. 5, 1934 at Orange City, Iowa, the only child of John and Christyne Geels De Vries. Jack was preceded in death in 1988 by his first wife, Saundra C. Sullivan De Vries, mother of their five children. He was also preceded in death by his eldest son, Keith A. De Vries, in 2010.

  He is survived by his children: Debbie Wardstrom of Sun City, Kevin L. (Karla) De Vries and Kent J. De Vries and partner Cheri Harkness, all of Bellingham, and Rhonda (Bart) van Nus of Ferndale. He is also survived by his long-time partner and wife of 27 years, Linda Hinkle Simmons, of Sun City; her son, Brian C. (Tammy) Simmons of Texas; and a brother, Larry (Jacquie) Dees of Washington, and sister, Bonnie Hotchkiss of Mexico. Other survivors include his five grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and two step-great-grandchildren; as well as several Orange City, Iowa, cousins he reconnected with in Arizona and enjoyed visiting; and, of course, the loves of his life these past several years, Miss Lilly (who predeceased him) and Mitzy, his Shih Tzus.

  Jack moved to Bellingham in 1948 to join other members of the Bylsma family relatives who first came to Lynden in 1912. Jack, well known in the Bellingham community for many years, began his lifelong career with bicycles at the old Times Bicycle Shop in downtown Bellingham in 1950 at age 16. Before learning the bicycle trade, Jack was a bicycle newspaper boy in the Fairhaven area and also worked for Western Union delivering telegrams by bicycle. In 1969 he opened his own bicycle shop, Jack’s Bicycle Center, at the intersection of James, State and Iowa streets. In 1995 the shop was moved to a new location on Iowa Street, where it continues today.

  No man ever loved his life’s work more than Jack did. Jack lived for, and loved, the bicycle business and bicycles of any size, age or maker. For many years in the 1950s, he rode with a group out of Vancouver, B.C., that rode their Penny Farthing (high wheel) bikes in parades in Vancouver and Seattle. In the 1950s, there was a group from Bellingham that would ride and hold unicycle races on Chuckanut Drive from the bridge in Skagit County to downtown Bellingham. Jack also won many bicycle races in the early 1950s in the Seattle area. He was an avid and well-known collector of anything pertaining to bicycles. In addition, he cherished the many lifelong friendships he made among those in the bicycle business.

  In 2011, due to declining health, he had to leave the day-to-day work he loved so dearly and retired to Arizona. Even though health prevented him from riding a two-wheeled bike, he took to riding a three-wheel recumbent in Arizona. Jack’s other love in life was playing three-ball billiards and regular pool. He was a champion of the game many times over in his younger years. As a young man, he was also actively involved in the Bellingham Jaycees, where he was once named “Man of the Year” for the work he had done on their projects around Bellingham. Jack never wished to sit still. His presence in our lives will now leave an emptiness. In his honor, keep on pedaling!

  Per Jack’s wishes, his body was cremated. Heritage Funeral Chapel, Peoria, Arizona, was in charge of arrangements. No services are planned at this time.