Photos: A memorial for Joe Hurlimann, who died while cycling in Berkeley

A ghost bike and memorial for Joseph Hurlimann on Sacramento Street, near Ada Street, on Friday, March 3, 2017. Hurlimann, 78, was killed when his bicycle and a vehicle crashed Feb. 8. Photo: David Yee

A memorial has been set up for Joseph Hurlimann who died after being involved in a collision on the morning of Feb. 8 on Sacramento Street, south of Hopkins Street, in North Berkeley. Hurlimann, who was 78, had been cycling around Berkeley since he was a child.

Remembered fondly by all who knew him, he grew up near University Avenue and Curtis, and was still living in his childhood home when he died. Hurlimann had three degrees from UC Berkeley and worked for more than 60 years at Truitt & White, the family-owned building materials business opened in 1946. “He liked us and we liked him,” the company’s CEO, Dan White told Berkeleyside last month. “It was always a kick to have him around.” Read more about Hurlimann and his life.

The memorial includes flowers, candles, fruit, laminated poems, photos and an obituary.

It also includes a white ghost bike that was created especially to honor Hurlimann by Brian Drayton, owner of Spokes Bike Lounge (which is next to Mr. Mopp’s on Martin Luther King Jr. Way) and Spokes Bicycle Boutique on Walnut Street.


This is the fifth ghost bike Drayton has created for a fallen cyclist and he said he wanted to make an homage to Hurlimann because he had clearly had an impact on a lot of people in the community.

“Joe had been around for a long time and was well-known in this smaller community. He would be seen at the Cheese Board and the market,” he said. Drayton was particularly keen to help because Hurlimann was an older cyclist and through his stores he caters to “four generations of cyclists,” including kids and seniors. “Other bike shops often ignore those populations,” he said.

He made the bike specifically for the memorial from scratch.

“Two hours before we took it there it didn’t exist,” Drayton said. He didn’t use any valuable parts for fear they would be stolen. Dave Campbell of Bike East Bay added the flowers at the back of the bike.

The shelf-life of a ghost bike varies, Drayton said.


“They wear out their welcome or become discarded, either stolen or removed by the city,” he said, adding that he is keeping an eye on it and making sure it is in good shape.

“The memorial is an impressive testament to people caring for someone that most of them did not know personally,” reader Lea Delson wrote Berkeleyside. Hurlimann is not believed to have had any immediate family or close relatives left when he died. Delson said she believed one neighbor had taken on the task of maintaining the memorial.

Funeral mass for Joseph Hurlimann: A funeral mass will be offered at St. Joseph the Worker Church for its longtime parishioner, Joseph Hurlimann, on Thursday, March 9, at 10:30 a.m. There will be a short viewing of the body at 10 a.m. prior to mass. Afterward there will be a gravesite committal service at St. Joseph Cemetery in San Pablo. All friends and fellow parishioners of “Joe” are welcome to join.

Flowers and fruit are part of the memorial for Joe Hurlimann on Sacramento Street. Photo, taken on March 3, 2017, by David Yee
Pinned to a tree, and part of the memorial for Joe Hurlimann, are poems, photographs, and an obituary. Photo: David Yee
Writings and pictures adorn a memorial for Joe Hurlimann. Photo: David Yee
Flowers and fruit are part of the memorial for Joe Hurlimann on Sacramento Street. Photo: David Yee

This story was updated after publication with information about the ghost bike and about the memorial service planned for Joe Hurlimann.