Gary Lee Bridwell
Gary Lee Bridwell passed away on June 29, 2023.
Gary grew up in Creswell and Cottage Grove, Oregon. His father, Earl Bridwell, and mother, Irene (nee Northway) raised Gary and 3 younger sisters: Judy (Gene) Kephart , Joyce (Rod) Bunner and Janette (Daniel) Ferguson. Gary graduated from Cottage Grove High School in 1966.
He was drafted for the Vietnam War and served in the Army as a helicopter inspector and mechanic, crew chief, and door gunman. He was wounded in combat and earned a Purple Heart before his Honorable Discharge in October of 1968.
Gary moved to Bend, Oregon in 1974 with his wife Carol “Elaine” (nee Clermont) and they had a daughter in 1977, Cara Jo Kobernik, who was Gary’s sidekick and the light of his life. His role as a father was his deepest joy. He was mostly self-employed as a carpenter until he worked for Sun Forest Construction company as a project manager, and he eventually became the remodel manager.
Gary got on a bike one day after work, and his life changed. He became an avid cyclist, one year logging over 6,000 miles. He helped create some of the mountain biking trails in the Bend area, which is now a mountain biking mecca. While he never competed, he was regarded as one of the elite athletes in the area. He loved to recruit other people into the world of cycling, by encouraging them, helping them purchase their own bikes, and by gently coaching them into safe and comfortable miles of enjoyment. Most of his friends were from the cycling community.
In 2002, Gary was evaluated for, and awarded, full combat-related disability.
He married Darcy (nee Gilbert), who gladly shared life and chased him around on bikes for 20 years.
Gary was integral in helping raise his grand-daughter, Olivia Kobernik, of Roseburg. Another light of his life, he was loved deeply as “Gramp”.
Gary will be so lovingly remembered for his generosity with helping so many people, his very goofy sense of humor, his protectiveness of those he loved, and his creativity and skill with building or fixing almost anything.
He adopted the Sun-tzu (The Art of War) motto of “The best revenge to war is to live well” and he was successful in that for many years.
A Celebration of Life will be held at The Old Stone Church (Web Cyclery) in Bend on September 24, 2023 at 1pm. Please contact Darcy Gilbert Bridwell for more information.