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As the Light Slowly Fades…

It is January 29, 2020. CBE’s Nick Woodbury is surrounded by family as they stand vigil at the end of his life.

Cancer sucks, but it gives you time. In Nick’s case, his family has rallied with poise, grace and strength. In his “work life” (Nick never considered CBE as work) he has seen the goodwill, humor and yes, love from his colleagues, customers and business associates returned in spades. He is a man at peace with the world and that is the best end game anyone could ask for.

This post is published as a means for you to share your thoughts and remembrances with others (in the comments below). We are getting so many individual calls and emails, we felt it was time to find a common place for them all. Special thanks to Stephen Kastner, a Guild member and our webmaster, for putting it together on this site, which is fitting as it was Nick who always said we needed to find a starter solution for Triumphs. He had a blast being part of it all.

Nick always took his first motorcycle ride of the year on his birthday, April 26. His family likes the idea of a Nick Ride on that date, which this year is conveniently on a Sunday. Please take note, as I’m sure we’ll pull this together. Nick also had a long history as a hot-rodder and we’ll be sure to include that circle of friends as well. Nick was particularly fond of echoing the following line, “If I had all the money back I ever spent on cars and motorcycles… I’d spend it on cars and motorcycles.” Amen to that.

Post your comments below my friends.

10 replies on “As the Light Slowly Fades…”

I first met Nick back in 2017 during the CBE Open House. I had happened by chance to learn about the event from a friend of mine at work and that there was a Suzuki T500 road racer on show. After working on that same bike down in Australia for the past several years I thought I should head over to check it out. I showed up on Saturday and along with meeting Peter Booth (the owner of the T500), that’s when I first met Nick. Such a wonderful man with a big smile and a huge heart. He was so interested in my story about working on the “T” down in “Oz” and he and I hit it off right off. From that day onward we often talked about the bike build. He was always checking in on how things were going. Every time something new was added to the bike he would get so excited like a little kid and wanted to know all about it. Before Nick’s illness, often before I started working on my bike, I’d go over to “Nick’s Corner” sit down on a stool next to him and just shoot the breeze with him for a while … that for me was always a good time and something I always looked forward to. Nick is so knowledgeable on just about everything and is such a mentor / teacher to everyone at CBE. He also has a sweet tooth! We’d bring things in for him from the bakery / store which he would nibble on when he got the craving which was most of the time! He was always there for the Guild members providing support, expertise and just plain old being a great guy to hang around with … lots of stories and no lack of conversation about anything! We can clearly feel Nick’s absence at the shop since he took ill. Life is not always fair and it really stinks when these kinds of things hit close to home. I clearly miss Nick not being around. I extend my most sincere condolences to Nick’s family.
Ken Lavallee
Team Skippy Racing
Guild Member Since 2017

As kind of a satellite member of the group, I didn’t see or have dealings with Nick near as often as most of you. And certainly haven’t known him for decades as some of you. But I had the good fortune to chat with him on those times I needed his expertise or just a laugh. Countless times, I called on Nick for some decal I needed for a paint job and if there was even the slightest chance it could be had, 9 times out of 10, he’d not only come up with it, but usually the following day. And the ones he couldn’t come up with, simply didn’t exist. Even then, he was apologizing as if it was his fault. He’d then make sure he left them inside the bbq outside for my often after hours pickup, saving my hide yet again. A gesture that always made me chuckle upon pickup.
On the times I’d visit the shop, it was always fun to see what Nick was up to or what vendor might be in his sights at that particular moment. But regardless, he always made time to talk and listen and we’d share a laugh. I’d also run into him at the Stowe Car Meet. I’d always look forward to seeing him as I’d grab a chair and shoot the breeze for a few care-free minutes.
Nick was as genuine a person as I’ve ever known, smart, funny, a wealth of knowledge and charming, a true gentleman in a world in desperate need of gentleman
I’ve lost a number of guys I look up to in recent years, Nick being the latest. I do my best to remember those traits I admired most about them and carry that with me as I continue my journey through life.
My sincere condolences to Nick’s family, his close friends and to all whose lives he touched. May God be a Triumph fan
Brent Budgor

I’ll never forget as a young engineer at GE having the privilege of working with Nick from time to time. He was a brilliant materials scientist and engineer who could explain, and more importantly, took the time and care to explain, the most complex problems in a way that anyone could understand. I’ll never forget, and still use myself today, a phrase he used …..”a goodly amount”. I’m thankful I was able to reconnect with Nick through Jack and the CBE. Wishing Nick and his family and many friends the strength and courage that Nick brought to all he touched. Peace and Godspeed Nick.

It is with a very heavy heart that I say “good bye” to Nick. He was a good friend and mentor to all of us who knew him. I will always remember that big smile and the way he would call out my name whenever I came to the shop. Nick greeted all of us like family and at times like this we realize that we are. I learned many things from Nick over the years and I hope he knew how much I appreciated him for his guidence and of course his amazing wit. I offer my deepest sympathy to Nick’s family and thank you for sharing him with us all. Ciao Brother, until we meet again! Keep the shiny side up!!

Today the world is a less colorful and interesting place without Nick. I’m saddened by his passing and disappointed in myself for not being better about keeping in touch after we both retired. I met Nick in 1975 when I was just a kid working in sheet metal fabrication at GE. Our paths were intertwined over the next four decades as we found ourselves in many different roles in the factories and in management. I always looked up to Nick and In every encounter I always learned something new about my craft and more importantly from the example he set as a genuinely good person. His humor and wit was legendary. I’m so glad I had the chance to know him and so sad to hear he has passed.

I am so sorry to hear this sad news. Nick was the first person I dealt with at the Classic Bike Experience, almost 10 years ago in late 2010. He was involved with the restoration of my BSA and was always willing to share advice, tips and tricks – and crack a few jokes or just be humourous (around these old bikes it really helps to have a sense of humour!) Over the years we have had a few brief exchanges via email, and it remained clear to me that he was always committed to helping out his customers and friends in the motorcycling community. I wish I lived closer and had the opportunity to visit more often, and get to know him better. Cheers mate!!

My Last Email To Nick… (apologies in advance for the colorful language)

Well friend, I’ll start with my honest feelings: fuck. Not FUCK! or even Fuck. Just a quiet, soft, sad lament for my own loss… fuck.

I’m so mad at myself for not getting to the hospital when I had the chance. I missed, I fear, my chance to tell you to your face how much I have enjoyed my time with you. The bike Ken has built me is a rocket! It’s an amazing piece of machinery that has only one problem and that is
the fact that the pilot cannot ride it fast enough to do it justice. So, yes, I have an amazing bike.

That said, I do miss the days of wrenching on a bike that may run. Or may not. Scraping off a layer of dirt and looking at Aiden and admitting that I don’t know a whole hell of a lot more than he does about what we’re doing. “Why don’t we ask Nick?” was always his response, when I had no answer for a question he’d posed.

One of my fondest memories ever (and I do mean “ever”) was two summers ago when you and I opened up my 70cc two stroke Rieju motor. Every morning for a good two weeks we would meet in the shop and look down into the innards of that (to me) terrifying transmission and decide what
the next best move would be. Those mornings were so enjoyable to me. We talked about politics and families and relationships and so many things forbidden at Wrench Night. Just two guys, one younger and one older, sharing stories and getting greasy. It was the kind of thing I would
have wanted to do with my father 40 years ago were that possible. It was not, but I found that intimacy and joy in marveling at modern engineering with you on the summer mornings. You always said, “the fucker who made this thing ain’t no smarter than you and me; we can
figure this out.”

I will hold you and your laugh and you’re amazing amazing AMAZING mechanical brain in my heart in your final days and for the rest of my own life. You have touched so many of us and I am forever grateful for having known you. You are a good man Nick Woodbury and I will miss you.

I press “send” on this email, hoping that everything suddenly magically turns wonderful and we can laugh about this ridiculous email over a beer on a summer day in the future as we turn a wrench on some shitbox roadbike I’ll have bought for Aiden, as we sit in the shadow of that
gorgeous Suzuki wunderbike.

I love you.

Godspeed.

Peter

I am very glad to read these comments, and so happy that my dad had such a wonderful community of friends at CBE. I love hearing about the impact he had on people who came to the shop, and that they were as impressed as I have always been with the way his mind worked, his willingness to help, and his humility.
My sister, my two sons and I went to CBE today, and Jack was gracious and generous with his time. He showed us around, plied my sons with junk food (they seem to have inherited my dad’s penchant for sweets) and helped us understand more about what my dad’s last few months were like. (We live out of state.). Thank you to Jack and everyone at CBE for their support.

I’m so sad to hear the news of Nick passing. What an all around great guy that I am so lucky to have met through the UVM SEED program. I’m so grateful for getting to know Nick while working on the KickMagic project and spending nearly every Wrench Night and then some that year with him and the incredible community that both he and Jack created at the shop.

Thank you for sharing your stories, experiences, knowledge, and encouragement, as both an engineer and motorcycle enthusiast, I really have learned a lot from you. Thank you for sharing the craigslist ad for that Ninja 250 after my first track day at Palmer on my little Rebel 250. It really turned out to be a perfect fit, much better than your SV650 that you let me test ride around your yard, which was going well until I went to stop and my feet could *barely* not touch the ground and I dropped it and was so embarrassed about. But we got it back up and you assured me that it was no big deal and not to worry, it had been dropped before, and that we’d find something more fitting for me for a track bike, and then you found the Ninja! It ran great for the first few months, until it had some starter issues (I’m telling you, it’s a sign I need a bike with kick start and KickMagic) that you helped me diagnose. I truly appreciate you going out of your way to come to my apartment to help me get it started so I could bring it over to the shop to take a look at it, where I *thought* I had traced the root of the problem to a loose connection at the starter, and I tightened it up, and rode it back home, problem solved … or not! Thank you again for then coming on a “rescue mission” with your trailer to pick up my bike and bring it over to the shop once I bought a replacement starter to really solve the problem. Until another one inevitably comes around, but that’s the fun thing about motorcycles, they’re always a project and there’s always something to learn, kind of like life. Ride in paradise, Nick. We’ll meet again someday, but until then I’ll sincerely miss you.
-Bri

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