PHILADELPHIA, PA (BRAIN)—Jerry Casale, co-founder of the Philadelphia International Championships and beloved member of the cycling community, died Wednesday night following a battle with prostate cancer. He was 71.
Casale founded the Philadelphia International Championships in 1985 with Dave Chauner and Jack Simes, and served as the race’s operations director for 25 years. He directed operations for more than 200 races, including the 1996 Olympic cycling events in Atlanta, Georgia, according to Chauner, who met Casale at the latter’s family-owned Hill Cycle Shop in Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill neighborhood.
Chauner remembered Casale on the Pro Cycling Tour website Thursday: “Jerry was a mentor to countless cyclists in the Philadelphia area during his reign over the legendary Hill Cycle Shop in Chestnut Hill. I was 13 when I first met Jerry, a happy 21-year-old just back from serving in Korea. He fixed my 8-speed Raleigh bike, he gave me my first pair of bike shoes and he introduced me to the sport that has become my life. He did the same for many others like John Eustice and Bruce Donaghy who went on to become champions but also to embrace the unique culture of cycling, something that Jerry, with his Italian roots, both understood and uniquely imparted.
“Those early years with Jerry ‘at the shop’ are some of my fondest memories. … From that start we became friends, business partners and as close to brothers as any non-family member could become. I loved Jerry for his heart, his optimism, his loyalty and his character. He always said to me, ‘We can do it, Hornet,’ one of his favorite phrases when we faced difficult business challenges trying to pitch world-class cycling events to the many people who were skeptical.”
A memorial service for Casale will be held Monday, March 12, from 9:30-11 a.m. at St. Aphonsus Catholic Church in Maple Glen, Pennsylvania, followed by a traditional Mass at 11 a.m.