COLORADO SPRINGS, CO—A memorial service is scheduled today for Chris Kuzma, a Colorado Springs retailer who died suddenly at his home.
Kuzma, who owned the Bike Stop, was 44. Friends say he passed away last Thursday after apparently suffering a heart attack.
David Wilson, a mentor and friend, described Kuzma as someone who loved his family and who lived life to the fullest. “He was high energy 110 percent of the time,” said Wilson, who owns the Bike Beat, a four-store chain in southern Virginia.
Wilson and his wife, Dixie, had dinner with Kuzma at Interbike. Both said they were stunned when they learned of his death.
“He was just full of life, talking about his kids and how well they were doing academically and athletically. He truly loved his family,” Wilson said.
Kuzma grew up in Newport News, Virginia, and later moved to Colorado where he worked at Gart Brothers and at Bicycle Village. He later founded his own store in Colorado Springs.
It was Wilson who hired Kuzma to work at HDK Cycles when the 15-year-old was a standout, mid-Atlantic BMX racer. “He was larger than life. That’s easy to say about someone, but anybody who has ever met him would tell you that he was full-on and high energy,” Wilson said.
Kuzma got his job at HDK, since renamed Bike Beat, when a friend of Wilson’s called and told him he should meet this kid. “I don’t normally hire 15-year-olds but Chris was a big kid and looked like he was 22. I took him on as a part-timer all through high school,” Wilson recalled.
Once out of high school, Kuzma worked for Wilson full-time in sales and service. And as he learned the business Kuzma later managed one of Wilson’s stores. But Kuzma got a taste of Colorado after winning a road race as a teenager that included a first place prize—a one week, all-expense paid trip to the Coors Classic in Colorado.
“Chris saw Davis Phinney win a criterium and that was it,” Wilson recalled. “That opened his world.” Kuzma later won a number of junior races and was well known on the East Coast where he raced for James River Velo Sport. He also was a member of the HDK Schwinn Racing Team.
Besides today’s 4 p.m. memorial service at the First United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs, a second memorial service is set for Sunday in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Wilson said friends will gather at 9:30 a.m. at his Williamsburg store for a ride into the countryside to honor Kuzma. Joining the Wilsons at Sunday’s memorial ride and a 2 p.m. memorial service at the Zion United Methodist Church in Seaford, Virginia, will be Kuzma’s widow, Sharon, and his two teenage sons, Zachary and Sam.
For more information, contact Wilson at (757) 229-0071 or (757) 817-8436. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to LIVESTRONG, National Mail Processing Center, P.O. Box 6003, Albert Lea, Minnesota 56007-6603.