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Churchman: ‘He loved his job’, his family, friends – and cycling

El Tour de Tucson lost a cherished member of its family last week when Wayne Churchman passed away. He was 68 years old.

He was a great guy, good friend, super husband, father and grandfather. How else would a man want to be described?

“He was the kindest, kindest man and the most loving husband anybody can imagine,” Kris, Wayne’s wife of 46 years. “He loved Mesa. And he loved riding a bike, obviously. And he loved what he did as far as being able to make things happen. There’s some bike paths and bike lanes that were done because of him. He’s just a really nice guy.”

He often spoke highly of his children – Daniel and Kelsy and granddaughter, Alayna.

Churchman was a dedicated cyclist, who was El Tour de Mesa’s ride director for 10 years.

“He loved that job,” Kris said. “It was his favorite job.”

In 2018, behind ride creator and El Tour founder, Richard J. DeBernardis, Churchman was named the dedication recipient of the event.

At the time, DeBernardis said: “He was just the obvious choice Wayne has done so much to advance El Tour de Mesa and cycling in the city. He’s been doing this for a long time. His devotion and love of cycling make him the perfect dedication recipient for El Tour de Mesa.”

Kris and Wayne Churchman.

Said Churchman: “It’s just fantastic and quite an honor. I grew up doing things for people to be happy and to make sure they had a good time. That’s why I got into doing events. There are very few people who are able to have their vocation be their avocation.”

And he loved his. He always wanted to be involved or help.

“I met Wayne quickly after I arrived in Tucson a couple of years ago and he was very helpful, resourceful to me,” said TJ Juskiewicz, El Tour’s executive director. “In fact, just recently he said he wanted to help El Tour with any projects we had coming up. He was that kind of guy. Always wanting to help make a ride or event better. There’s no question he left an impressionable image with everyone he met.”

Churchman started cycling in 1977 and, well, never really stopped. In fact, he cycled until two weeks before his death. He was doing what he loved.

“It’s not just that he did a great job; he was a great person,” said Barbara Franklin, El Tour’s former and longtime registration director. “He was always thinking, always helping – with intelligence, kindness and humor putting his whole heart into what he did. Wayne Churchman was inspiring. Wayne will be deeply missed.”

Churchman was one of America’s top perimeter bicyclists and a perimeter record holder for riding the perimeter of Mesa. It wasn’t uncommon for Churchman to pedal more than 50,000 miles in a two-year span. Beginning in 2016, he pedaled more than 23,000 miles all in perimeter miles, placing him fourth for top perimeter cyclists for that year.

DeBernardis called Wayne a “brother.”

“He was dedicated, honest, diplomatic … always smiling,” DeBernardis said. “He had an incredible positive attitude. He had an innate belief in anything could be done and he demonstrated that through his challenge of living with cancer for these past eight years.

“His love of life, family, friends and bicycling kept him going longer than what the medical world could ever project. He will be missed – and remembered.”