One of the primary inspirations for Barrington resident Bob Lee's three legendary "Ride for 3 Reasons" cross-country bike rides lost his 12-year fight with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, just after Christmas.
Bill Raymond, 74, died at his home in Huntington Beach, Calif. on Dec. 26. He had been diagnosed with ALS in 2000, just after retiring to California from his former home in Barrington's Fox Point subdivision.
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Lee had already been deeply moved by the book "Tuesdays with Morrie," about Morrie Schwartz's life with ALS. He provided it as a audio book to Raymond and his wife, Barb, to listen to on their original drive to their new home. They enjoyed it so much they listened to it twice.
Only five months after his arrival in California, Raymond was diagnosed with ALS.
Lee did his first "Ride for 3 Reasons" for ALS, cancer and hospice services in 2001. That ride, along the country's southern border, began in Raymond's new hometown.
Lee visited Raymond again this past October during his third "Ride for 3 Reasons" -- this time along the West Coast from Canada to Mexico.
Lee said it was a major accomplishment for Raymond to have lived so long with the disease, as the normal life expectancy is two to five years.
"Although this disease robbed Bill of the use of his voluntary muscles, it never diminished his spirit, active mind and deep love for his family and friends," Lee said.
In addition to inspiring Lee's efforts, Raymond served as advocacy chair for the ALS Association of Orange County and raised more than $60,000 over 12 years for the National ALS Association's "Walk to Defeat ALS."
"How ironic that Bill died from Lou Gehrig's disease, as he was always an avid baseball fan," Lee said. "While living in Barrington, Bill was very involved with Little League, American Legion Baseball and as a favorite coach. The Raymonds' sons, Doug and Joe, were also very active in the baseball programs in Barrington. Bill remained a Chicago Cubs fan throughout his relocation to California."
Lee added that Raymond's death was ultimately a peaceful one, among the comfortable surroundings of home, and that he will be remembered as a "gentlemen with wisdom and love for all."