Nearly 300 people gathered Friday afternoon, at the CSU Oval, to honor and remember avid cyclist and CSU faculty member Rebecca Allen who died July 22 when she was hit by a car while riding her bike.
Daniel Price, the motorist who hit Allen, is being charged with vehicular manslaughter.
“The Oval was a special place to Rebecca. She spent a lot of time here,” said Allen’s brother, Jon Gumtow, who opened the memorial with a tribute to his sister.
“Rebecca meant a lot to so many people,” Gumtow said to the assembled crowd, many wearing flip-flops and arriving by bike, a pre-planned homage to Allen.
Chris Bartholomew, Allen’s friend and coworker, asked for a show of hands from those whose “lives were touched by Rebecca.” Almost everyone raised their arms into the air.
Guests were asked to wear flip-flops and bike to the Oval in honor of Allen, who wore flip-flops to her wedding and was a self-described “flip-flop kind of girl,” said Bartholomew.
Faculty, students, family and friends, portrayed Allen as a person who delighted in laughter, went out of her way to help others and was passionate about cycling and the environment.
“She was a cheerful giver,” said Bartholomew. “Rebecca thought of herself as a very lucky person.”
Greg Luft, chair of the Department of Journalism and Technical Communication met Allen in 2000, when she was earning her BA in journalism and technical communication at CSU. He said she was recruited for the position of undergraduate program administrator.
“Over the years we talked about ways to keep Rebecca around because we thought so much of her,” said Luft. “She really got a kick out of figuring out difficult student advising problems.”
On a lawn littered with bikes, friends and family shared how Allen inspired them to take up cycling and recycling.
“Rebecca inspired me to start riding a bike again,” said Bartholomew, who spoke on how Allen took her bike shopping, which included lessons in safety.
“She would not allow me to ride that bike home until I had the proper reflectors and safety equipment,” Bartholomew said. Allen was wearing her helmet when she was hit.
Luft said that Allen once took an old head of lettuce from the department’s break room so she could compost it at home. This action earned her the nickname “Granola,” Luft said.
Cyclists Mark and Joany Dotson, who had never met Allen, came to the event simply to honor a fellow cyclist.
“There’s that common bond with cyclists,” Mark Dotson said. “Cycling is not easy. It’s a choice you make. Every time you go out, there is a chance that something could happen. If something does happen it’s a sign of respect to show up.”
After tributes were delivered, Gumtow invited guests to the podium to share memories of Allen, 32, who, although largely health-conscious, was known to love marshmallow peeps, margaritas, and “beer-boiled brats.”
Allen’s father-in-law, Bruce Allen, spoke of the “synergy” Greg and Rebecca Allen shared, and the difficulties ahead for the grieving family.
“Often we don’t realize what we had until it’s gone, but with Rebecca we knew and treasured what we had all along, and that is special,” Luft read from a tribute by Garrett O’Keefe, former chair of the CSU journalism department,
In his closing remarks, Allen’s brother Gumtow spoke of the discussion he had with his little sister on the day she left Wisconsin for a new life in Fort Collins. They talked about all the friends she would make.
“Looking around here today is proof that this became a reality,” Gumtow said. “You should all know that Rebecca lived her dream.”
Following hugs and stories shared, the loved ones of Rebecca Allen biked to the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant to celebrate her life with margaritas, because “Rebecca would have wanted it that way.”
Staff writer Shari Blackman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.