July 14 will be a special day for Debra and Marc Guthrie of Marshalltown.
That is when family, friends and Lennox employees will be working to re-condition the Guthrie Memorial Bridge across the street from Marshalltown's Lennox Industries at 200 S. 12th Ave.
The bridge was constructed in 2004 to honor the memory of the late Bob Guthrie, Debra's husband and Marc's father.
T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY
Shown recently at the (Bob) Guthrie Memorial Bridge in Marshalltown’s Lennox Centennial Park are Dan Webber of Lennox, Marc Guthrie, Bob’s son, Debra Guthrie, Bob’s spouse and Sandra Holubar of Lennox. Bob Guthrie died in 2003 participating in RAGBRAI. He had worked at Lennox 27 years prior to his death.
Bob Guthrie, a 27-year Lennox employee, died of a heart attack in his sleep July, 2003 after a day of bicycling in RAGBRAI.
He was participating in his second ride, having completed his first in 2002.
The long, wooden bridge connects Lennox Centennial Park on South 12th Ave. with the Linn Creek Recreational Trail.
Initial construction of the bridge was a partnership between Lennox employees and Marshalltown's Parks and Recreation.
It's grand opening with ribbon-cutting was celebrated with 75 family members, friends, co-workers and residents in attendance.
The partnership will be resurrected July 14.
Dan Webber and Sandra Holubar of Lennox, who are coordinating the repair project with others, said Parks and Recreation is considering "flipping" some of the wooden timbers on the bridge to extend their life among other tasks before volunteers report July 14.
"We are appreciative of Parks and Recreation help when we first constructed the bridge, their assistance throughout the years and now," Webber said.
The bridge holds special significance to Webber.
He helped obtain materials for initial construction.
Importantly, Webber knew and respected Bob Guthrie from their work at Lennox.
"Bob Guthrie was liked and respected at Lennox for many years," Webber said. One of his favorite phrases was 'work with me' it was his way of deflating a possible confrontational situation and it worked."
Webber was later assigned to assume Bob Guthrie's job at Lennox and acknowledged it was tough succeeding him initially, but he has moved forward with the task at hand.
The task now is to be prepared for July 14, or rain date July 21.
Webber and Holubar's goal is to complete the project before RAGBRAI XL arrives in Marshalltown July 25.
The job will be split in three phases - volunteers have the option to work at three different times, Holubar said.
Sealing the exterior angled timbers and uprights begins at 8 a.m.
Sealing inside uprights begins at 10 a.m. followed by sealing of bridge floor at noon.
"Volunteers may come for the entire event or work as long as they can," Holubar said.
Holubar said the committee is also promoting the sale of plaques to help sustain the bridge.
As community excitement for RAGBRAI builds, Debra and Marc Guthrie shared bittersweet memories about the Iowa bicycling tradition.
"Bob had a heart attack in 2000 and made a lifestyle change, Debra Guthrie said. "He switched his diet and exercised more. A goal was to complete RAGBRAI in 2002. Completing RAGRBRAI in 2003 was another goal."
Marc Guthrie also reflected.
"It was difficult for a time to see anyone riding a bike," Marc Guthrie said. "We didn't sit in the back room of Zeno's Pizza for a long time, because of the RAGBRAI paintings and jerseys on display there. Not only did I lose my dad, but I lost by best friend."
Also sharing in the loss were Bob Guthrie's daughters - Michelle, now of Ankeny and Melissa, who resides in N.C.
"When the bridge (construction) idea was first proposed, we were overwhelmed," Debra Guthrie said.
"It was a real honor to have the bridge constructed then and as it is re-conditioned," Marc Guthrie said. "The Guthrie family is very thankful for everyone's work then and now."
Contact Lennox employees Dave Heddens 641-754-4328, Roger Vreeland, 641-754-4018, or Vickie Miller 641-754-4216 to volunteer or purchase a plaque.