We are sad to learn of Don Gramling’s recent passing and our hearts ache for his family’s sudden loss, and ours. Don became a randonneur in 2013 and quickly accumulated a pile of awards, medals, and significant accomplishments including a K-Hound and completion of PBP ’15 and other 1200Ks. Don’s completion of Paris-Brest-Paris was legendary and involved being up against the time cut-off, failed neck muscles, a broken crank arm, and a Frenchman whose grace and empathy rivaled Don’s. In my 15 years of randonneuring and four PBPs, I have never seen someone more deserving of the honor of ancien as Don.
But the thing that set Don apart as a special person, friend, and riding companion was his good and gracious nature, positive attitude, and infectious smile. No matter how lousy the weather, long the miles, or weary the riders, Don was always present to appreciate the moment and make it a good time and great adventure. Don was ever-present to enjoy post-ride food, beverages, and tales of past exploits and future shenanigans. Don volunteered for all four days of the 2016 Cracker Swamp 1200K and greeted everyone — riders and other volunteers alike — with “What can I do to help?” Don’s selflessness and helpfulness were inexhaustible. Don will be greatly missed. Chapeau, good friend, as you ride on to the next adventure.