HUDSON: “He was one of the good ones.”
That’s how Kent Roosevelt High School chemistry teacher Ben Marquette described his mentor, friend and colleague, Mitch Lambert.
Lambert, who taught chemistry at Roosevelt for 27 years, died July 29 from injuries when he he was struck by a car while riding his bicycle on Lynn Road in Rootstown five days earlier.
With Lambert, “other people came first,” Marquette said. “... You don’t find people like that very often.”
To honor Lambert’s memory, about 30 family members and friends from Roosevelt and Lambert’s church gathered Saturday morning for a memorial ride at the CycleBar riding studio in Hudson. About $1,000 was raised to benefit the Food Pantry Ministry at Community Bible Church in Rootstown that was spearheaded by Lambert and his wife, Darlene. In the pantry’s 10-year history, more than 100 tons of food have been distributed to people in Northeast Ohio.
Before the cycling session began, Marquette told his fellow riders that Lambert became a serious bicyclist about five years ago and lost about 100 pounds as a result.
“He changed his life,” said Marquette, who added that Lambert was looking forward to retiring in a couple of years and spending more time with his grandchildren.
Marquette encouraged his team of cyclists to remember “who we are doing this for.”
After the session ended, Marquette said another rider told him she imagined Lambert planned everything he wanted to accomplish while he was on one of his rides.
“He had to be,” Marquette said. “Because somebody that accomplishes that much, there’s got to be a time where you sit down and figure all those things out.”
Cycling session leader Megan Duffy encouraged the riders as they headed to the homestretch as “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” burst through the studio’s sound system.
“Together we can,” she said.
Marquette, who organized the event with his wife, Jackie, called the ride “therapeutic,” and noted he experienced a range of emotions as he pedaled his stationary bike in a session filled with energizing music and dynamic lighting.
“I pedaled hard,” Marquette said. “I smiled, I cried.”
Jackie Marquette said that Lambert was her chemistry teacher at Roosevelt and recalled that he made learning enjoyable.
“He was a fun guy,” she said.
Ben Marquette noted the cyclists who pedaled for 45 intense minutes included Lambert’s former students who ranged in age from teens to their 30s.
“That’s the kind of teacher he was,” Ben Marquette said. “That people in their 30s would come back to ride a bike [for this event].”
One of those students was Meghann Featherstun, now a registered nutritionist, who prepared the snacks that the cyclists enjoyed following their workout. She took two different chemistry courses that were taught by Lambert, saying that she took the second chemistry class because she liked Lambert’s approach to teaching.
“He was such an amazing teacher,” Featherstun said.
Ben Marquette praised Duffy and the other CycleBar staff for donating their time.
“There’s just nothing more heartwarming than that,” Duffy said. “A bunch of people getting together for someone who brings them so much joy. [It] just warms my heart and soul.”
Donations to support the food pantry at Community Bible Church can be sent to the church at 3671 Tallmadge Road, Rootstown, OH 44272.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, email@example.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.