A beautiful soul: Lynde succumbs to injuries, dies Monday morning

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BRATTLEBORO — Family and friends and their motorcycles filled a section of Flat Street on Tuesday as they mourned the death of Stanley Lynde, a life-long local resident, at his Lynde Motorsports shop.

"Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, love honestly, laugh easy, keep it simple, ride often, ride FREE and never regret anything that makes you smile," Lynde's daughter Kelli Lynde Worden wrote online early Monday morning. "My Dad has always lived his life just like these words read. His love and laughter were his greatest gifts. He had an ability to teach others and make each and every person he met feel like the only person in the room. We are all better people because we knew and loved my Dad."

Worden said she was "absolutely heartbroken" to share the news of her father's death "surrounded by his loving family." She described her father as "tough as nails," a man who fought with all he had.

But his injuries, stemming from a motorcycle crash on Sept. 25, "were just too severe," she said. Lynde was struck by a truck driver, who has pleaded not guilty to gross negligent operation.

"I am sorry I have not been able to share all of the news over the past few days, but his body was growing tired and our hearts were breaking as each hour passed," Worden wrote. "We are still reeling and trying to process, honestly we are still in shock. I am sending out this message as I sit here numb and feel such sadness."

Worden wrote that her father died after "doing what he absolutely loved with the love of his life" with "the wind on his face, a belly full of his favorite ice cream, the sun kissing his skin and the woman he loved wrapped around him."

Lynde's wife, Laura D'Angelo, was also injured in the crash. She was taken to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., and Lynde was transported to Albany, N.Y., Medical Center. D'Angelo eventually joined the rest of the family at a hotel in Albany as Lynde was being treated.

"May we all live like Dad, live to love your life, every single day," wrote Worden.

A day and time for services has not yet been posted.

Lynde's brother John Lynde is also interested in motorcycles.

"I couldn't not be into them," he said. "He made sure of that."

At 4 years old, John was taken out of his bed still wearing his pajamas. Lynde wanted to take a photograph of his brother on a new motorcycle.

"That picture's probably around," John said at the shop Tuesday, where he was joined by other friends and family sharing stories and mourning his brother's death.

At 5 or 6 years old, John was put on Lynde's Sportster.

"My feet barely made the engine, he gave me the handles," John recalled. "I went fast."

In his teens, Lynde and his friends would film "everything they did," John said. If anybody was hurt, the filming didn't stop.

Jamie Plaut, of Keene, N.H., met Lynde 40 years ago. The two men were in their 2's, "getting in trouble, just riding," said Plaut, who also fixes bikes.

"Brattleboro has changed a lot since, a whole lot," Plaut said. "And it just changed again, a whole lot."

A long-time friend of Lynde who goes by the name "Crude" told the Reformer they met in their teens.

"He had a Harley, I had a Harley," said Crude. "We started hanging out. We loved the same thing."

Lynde would go to Florida to stay with him during the winter and "Crude" would come to Brattleboro in the summer.

"Stanley was loved by everybody," said Crude, adding that even dentists across from the Flat Street shop will miss Lynde because the motorcycles would drown out the sound of the drills being used in their office. "He was a beautiful soul. He always had a smile and an open heart. He promoted the sport and this lifestyle."

Crude compared Lynde to an apple pie: "Never a bad slice."

Bill Fitzpatrick, of Putney, remembered being 12 years old and living next door to Lynde, who had just purchased a Sportster. Lynde invited him to take it for a ride.

"I didn't want to hurt it," Fitzpatrick said. "I rode about a mile, scared to death."

Fitzpatrick called Lynde the kind of guy who would let you ride "his pride-and-joy motorcycle."

"That was just the way he was," said Fitzpatrick. "He gave everything he had to everybody."

George Barber, of Brattleboro, said Lynde never charged him once for inspection stickers. The two have been friends for about 30 years.

After a divorce and years of not riding, Barber bought a motorcycle. Lynde was happy for him.

"He was like 'You're back in the saddle,'" Barber said. "He's going to be sorely missed."

Vermont Canoe Touring Center owner Jon Knickerbocker, of Brattleboro, described Lynde Motorsports a landmark and "great shop."

"He's the catalyst for this whole community of bikers," said Knickerbocker.

Like Barber, Knickerbocker received encouragement from Lynde when he returned to riding motorcycles after a break.

Knickerbocker, who has known Lynde for about 20 years, recalled cleaning a barn out at Scott Farm back in June. They came across some spark plugs, which happened to be the kind Knickerbocker was looking for.

"He let me take them," Knickerbocker said. "We were having a blast."

Barber and Knickerbocker both looked back fondly on block parties Lynde organized on Flat Street. A band would play on a trailer.

"Just looking how beautiful it was, all the bikes, the lights, I said, 'Stanley, we need to get someone to record this.' It was just amazing," said Barber.

Knickbocker added, "The night was just a fun time."

Barber and Knickerbocker also had difficulties trying to pay Lynde.

"He would never take money," Knickerbocker said. "You had to do other things."

Another friend told the Reformer Lynde "might be gone physically but he'll live on in people's hearts forever."

One way his memory will continue will be through Vintage Steele, a local motorcycle shop. Co-owner Josh Steele learned about the trade from Lynde.

Steele said he had quit drinking 10 years ago. With a lot more time and money on his hands, Steele and his partner, Sarah Rice, wanted to explore the world of motorcycles. They started off with a couple mopeds purchased from Lynde.

The mopeds were broken but Steele got them up and running again. When Lynde saw what Steele had done, he asked Steele to be his "moped guy."

"It was a pretty incredible experience, the amount of knowledge I was able to learn that summer observing him and the dynamic," Steele said. "It was a pretty profound and enlightening experience. I felt incredibly humbled to have the opportunity to do it."

A couple of years after spending a summer in Lynde's shop, Steele and Rice had purchased tools to work on bikes. They also bought a house and used a garage as a tiny shop until they found a location to rent in Brattleboro.

Lynde was supportive of the new shop when Steele approached him.

"He gave me his blessing by saying, I'm [expletive] busy — in the sense that he's so busy, he's not worried about competition, knowing our relationship with each other and people like me need to explore the scary world of small business ownership," Steele said, describing the two shops' relationship as "really cordial."

"We spent time talking about hourly rates and inspection rates so we're not competitive with each other. We would refer customers and parts sales to each other."

Steele said the idea was to try to build a healthy, vibrant motorcycle community.

"People drive a couple hours just for our services," he added.

At about 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Steele said people had been coming by Lynde Motorsports nonstop since 5 a.m. He counted about 25 to 30 visitors at that point.

"Some of these guys have known Stanley their entire life," he said. "Stanley is one of the most incredibly people in the sense that you don't really need to know him to know how big of a person, how big of a personality he is. He's the most humble, kindest, gentlest person you'd ever meet."

Dover Free Library Director John Flores, of Newfane, couldn't make it to the shop on Tuesday.

"I received an update this morning," he told the Reformer. "It was awful hard riding my motorcycle this morning. Stanley convinced me to buy it. He rode me around on it to get the feel of it. I will miss that guy."

Over 13 days, about 900 people had donated $90,450 to Lynde's family for medical expenses through crowdfunding efforts at gofundme.com/stanley-and-laura-lynde. The page had 4,200 shares on Facebook.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.

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