Jerry Casale, Co-Founder of Philadelphia Cycling Championship, Father, Friend, Mentor, “Main Man”, Dies at 71

The cycling world will miss Jerry Casale who passed away on Wednesday night.

Jerry is probably best known for co-founding the Philadelphia Cycling Championship with Jack Simes and me in 1985 and serving as its operations director for 25 years. And for the over 200 races around the country that he directed operations for, including the 1996 Olympic cycling events in Atlanta.  But this is only part of the legacy Jerry leaves to the family, friends and fans to whom he meant so much.

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. Assembling and delivering bikes for the neighborhood kids at Christmas, opening the latest shipment of wool jerseys from Italy, ordering knickers for what we thought should be the well-turned out winter cyclist (I saw an unsold box of them just a year ago) and marveling at the bank of slide-out drawers neatly storing the latest Campagnolo parts and equipment.

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.

The only times I recall Jerry being upset or angry were when people did not measure up to his standards of character.  Intelligence, education, world titles, none of that mattered as much as being honest, fair and loyal.

Over the last several days I’ve thought a lot about Jerry, what a great impact he had on my life and how his values helped shape so many people. He was a born leader. He had that innate ability to win people over, make them feel important and to motivate them to set goals, work hard and remain loyal. He was always reminding me to relax, take it easy, don’t get upset if things didn’t go the way we wanted.

These were the things that Jerry and I discussed nearly every morning for some 20 years. We were both early risers and looked forward to meeting in the office before anyone got there (except Cookie, of course). We talked family, friends, business, old times and new challenges. Although in many ways very different, we enjoyed each other’s company immensely.

I loved Jerry Casale and I will miss him terribly.

Dave Chauner

March 9, 2012

Comments (7)

Jeff Holt
Said this on 3-9-2012 At 12:00 pm

I'm deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Jerry.

The cycling community will sorely miss his energy & enthusiasm.

My thoughts go out to his family & friends.

Jeff Holt

Doug Dale
Said this on 3-10-2012 At 10:19 am


Well said... Jerry was a uniquely charismatic guy. He was a man who was able to accomodate all types of the "crazy's" this sport seems to generate at the same time distilling those who were real from the posers. I remember him for is immense sense of humor and for his commitment to us. We will both miss him... Doug

Don Simon
Said this on 3-11-2012 At 08:18 am

I am very sorry to hear of Jerry's passing.  My condolences to  PCT and his family.  His loss will be felt greatly in the cycling world.  

David Wender
Said this on 3-15-2012 At 07:51 pm
We lost the "heart" of the Philly Bike Race with the passing of Jerry. I had the privilege of knowing Jerry for over the past 20 years. With Jerry you didn't just feel like a friend, Jerry made you feel like family and for one week every year I felt like I was part of his family working race week.

The first Sunday of June will never be quite the same, but we know that Jerry's presence will be with everyone.

The Philadelphia area and the Cycling Community as a whole hold a debt of gratitude to Dave Chauner, Jack Simes and Jerry for allowing us to share and enjoy their dream of a professional bike race and made it a rite of passage for us all to signal the start of summer.

Jerry, you will always be in my thoughts my fellow Falcon alumunus.... Dave; North Catholic Class of '71.
Said this on 3-30-2012 At 04:32 am
All of this is fine and dandi folks. But, until you change the lduernying systems and mindset of the people good luck!I got hit on April 24th on Preston and sommerset. I was going straight on Preston south bound. The driver going north and turning left on sommerset. As I approached the intersection (about 25m or so), I perform a visual on the driver. The light turns green around this time. Next thing I know the driver is turning in front of me! I clip the back end. The driver yells out you cut me off . Five other people yell you cut off the cyclists . The driver never gets a ticket because he claims he was in the intersection first. The driver claims to be x-ottawa cop. He leaves a voice message on my answering machine stating he is too busy to cover the costs of my bike until May 18th. He also states in there that I was travelling at a good clip . Proof that he did see me and that he knew I was moving (speed limit is 50km/h in this area try to do that on a bike!). He took the chance and cut in front of me.But, because the police did not give a ticket. I have to prove fault to his insurance. Not an easy task!!!Then I noticed someone else got hit from behind on the monday on sussex (where someone was killed Sept 2009). The driver did not get a ticket.Something very very strange is going on with the police not issueing tickets. Maybe against cyclists?Then I noticed a report on where one cyclist went up to the gatineaus this weekend and got harrassed by police.What is going on here!!!!We need a change in mindset and in our system.Denmark is a very expensive city to drive in. It has major deterents. Hence, cycling is made easy while driving difficult.In Canada, driving is seen as a right. Heck, you can pretty much run someone over and get away with murder!!! Our system(s) is stuck in the 1950s!!!
Said this on 3-30-2012 At 07:41 am
All the regulars were there, for the most part. Us, Das Boot, WWGRD, were the final three teams, The Mattresses and Don't Stop Me Now also were there, then some other rdnoam teams, I think about 10? Marcus hosted. Next week is Tim Warner's last week in town, so we're bringing a large group out to celebrate and to spend our massive stack of NPC cash.
Said this on 3-30-2012 At 10:53 pm
We were there, however it was an off b/c we were cebelrating a bday. I have no idea how many points we had. Marcus never told the final scores. Good luck! to all this week as I will still be in Vegas trying to win a braclet in the World Series of Poker

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