Couriers honour mentor
messenger dies on job
More than 100
attend impromptu wake
Toronto Star, June
By Sikander Z.
He was their
mentor, their "grandfather."
They were his life.
More than 100 bike
couriers working in the city's core came out to
remember Bob Byers, who died Thursday while on the job. He was 58.
"I'm blown away,"
said Jim Byers, "Biker Bob's" younger brother, as the
crowd gathered on the sidewalk in front of the Duke of Richmond on
James St. Byers died on Thursday afternoon of what his friends believe
was likely a massive heart attack.
John, a courier
who didn't want to give his last name, recalls passing
Byers at the corner of Queen St. W. and James St. that afternoon and
saying "Hi." About 10 minutes later, Byers reportedly turned purple and
collapsed. He died soon after.
The crowd of
couriers, dispatchers, drivers and walkers gathered to pay
their respects to Byers and to have "a beer for Bob."
"We're gonna ...
send him off peacefully to heaven, where he belongs,"
said Eric Wuttunee, one of the organizers of the wake for Byers, who
had been a courier for 18 years.
question that Byers was a giant in the courier community. A
"He was a great
guy all around," said Wuttunee.
"He was always
more compassionate to younger guys coming on the road,
always trying to give them the lowdown of the do's and don'ts as a
"No matter what
age you were, he'd always talk to you as if you were
the same age as him."
It's believed that
Byers was the oldest courier in town.
"I will forever be
a rookie to this guy," said a courier, who didn't
want his name used.
"He was always in
a good mood," said another.
independent" is how Jim described Byers. "He was the family
But that didn't
diminish his fondness for his brother.
"He was completely
invincible till yesterday," Jim Byers said.
Kip Gordon said
his uncle's biggest fear was to become incapacitated
before he died.
"He just wanted to
But there was no
riding or driving on Queen St. for a couple of minutes
as the couriers took to the street and lay down their bikes in memory
"It was a hero's
goodbye, I guess," Gordon said.
lost 20 pounds the first two weeks," he says. I love this job. I
love being outdoors, and l love the people. The people are great.
Ninety-nine per cent of them are naturally nice. And they all like me
because I'm old.
- Biker Bob on
GGo to the Messenger Memorial for more on