Facebook   Twitter   Instagram
Current Issue   Archive   Donate and Support    

Remembering John


John Breaux was a simple man whose joy was to spend his days beautifying his community. He shoveled snow for local businesses, took out the garbage at Albertsons and, most famously, picked up litter along the roadside.

Since an accident took his life on January 30, the people of Lafayette, Louisville and the surrounding communities have been beautifying the site of his death in memory of their fallen friend.
John, known as Jesus to many in town, was known for leaving gifts for friends: small trinkets, candles, tokens of friendship and affection. People gave him gifts in return, and after his passing, they had to leave their gifts lining the roadside where John was struck by a car.
Piles of flowers, teddy bears, framed photos and balloons appeared as dozens of cars filled with mourners lined up along Highway 287. Two bicycles also appeared, one painted white, one gold, representing, as one sign read, John’s “big bicycle in the sky.” The ephemera serve as a physical outpouring of a community’s grief at the passing of one of its most familiar faces.
But the tributes didn’t stop there. Memorials appeared in shop windows all over town as the news spread. Signs hung on fences and from overpasses proclaimed John an angel and told how much he would be missed. People gathered at the Albertsons where John volunteered and at City Hall to share their memories and say goodbye.
In the days following his death, residents’ need to express their feelings about their fallen friend continued to grow. A digital memorial sprang up on Facebook, and in less than a week, more than 4,000 people had joined the group. From there, the memorial “Ride for John” was born, with more than 150 people appearing on the morning of February 1 to ride in honor of their friend’s life. Other digital memorials were established on the Daily Camera website, coloradodaily.com and Flickr.
And the memorials kept growing. According to the Facebook page, more than a dozen area businesses have accepted donations for a permanent memorial to John. T-shirts were printed, photos made available, specials advertised across the area with profits donated to the memorial fund.
Now, the cities of Louisville and Lafayette are taking the memorials to the next level. The cities have proposed to jointly host a spring clean-up event in his honor including a community breakfast and volunteer projects across both cities. Other ideas include turning his bronzed bicycle into a memorial or naming a street or park after him.
But the truest memorial to the man who spent his life giving to others is the organic way in which this outpouring of goodwill has grown: person to person, heart to heart. John’s final act of goodwill was to move his community to reach out to one another, to come together as friends and neighbors, and hopefully to inspire them to live their lives more the way he did: simply, honestly and always a thought toward helping others.

You can view the online tributes to John’s life and learn more about the physical tributes planned at the Facebook Group dedicated to his memory.


Lacy is an award-winning food writer and blogger. She lives in Westminster with her family. Google

Leave a Reply