Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Bicycle Mechanics
Reload this Page >

Master Mechanic Johnny Borrowitz died today

Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

Master Mechanic Johnny Borrowitz died today

Old 09-22-08, 05:17 PM
  #1  
mike
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
mike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Snowy midwest
Posts: 5,392
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Master Mechanic Johnny Borrowitz died today

My good friend and master bicycle mechanic Johnny Borrowitz died today at the age of 90.. something. Johnny rode and repaired bicycles until two weeks before his death.

I visited Johnny about a week ago. He was concerned about the bikes he had in his shop with customers waiting for them. I told him I would take care of it. I cut some grips off the ends of some handlebars (with the tubes inside) and gave them to Johnny to squeeze while he was laying in the hospital bed. You know, he really liked and appreciated that.

Johnny spent many hours and months and years teaching me about bicycle mechanics in his wood-stove heated shop. He had bikes from the 1930's to today and everything in between. You name it, Johnny could fix it. He could fix anything with parts he had right there in his garage in buckets, boxes, drawers and cabinets. No bike was ever tossed without first harvesting every conceivably useable part from it.

No matter how bad a bike was, Johnny never charged more than $30.00 to repair even if he had to replace both wheels.

He had the unusual talent of being able to straighten a really bad wheel with a wooden mallet. He would lay it on the edge of a chair and "WHACK!" he would smack it in the most unpredictable place. Next thing you knew, it would be ready for fine tuning with a spoke wrench.

It was Johnny who loaded me up with cherry bounce and sent me on my way home on a two-wheeler. That learned me good and I never tried it again. I could hear him laughing from a block away.

I saw him give away many bikes to families and individuals who looked like they could use some help. If a kid came over with big eyes dreaming about a muscle bike, Johnny would let the kid trade in his old one plus maybe a couple of bucks just to let the youngster appreciate it.

He was an extraordinarly kind man who shared what he had including material possessions, wisdom, and compassion.

Farewell, Johnny. You will be missed.
Attached Images

Last edited by mike; 09-23-08 at 03:16 PM.
mike is offline  
Old 09-22-08, 05:44 PM
  #2  
Joshua A.C. New
Senior Member
 
Joshua A.C. New's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Northampton, MA
Posts: 956

Bikes: Iron Monkey: a junkyard steel 26" slick-tired city bike. Grey Fox: A Trek 7x00 frame, painted, with everything built, from spokes up. Jet Jaguar: A 92 Cannondale R900 frame, powder coated matte black with red and aluminum highlights.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Awesome story.

Let's be like that guy.
Joshua A.C. New is offline  
Old 09-22-08, 06:02 PM
  #3  
mike
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
mike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Snowy midwest
Posts: 5,392
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Joshua A.C. New View Post
Awesome story.

Let's be like that guy.
I'm with you, Joshua.
mike is offline  
Old 09-22-08, 06:10 PM
  #4  
G piny parnas
messenger
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: WLA
Posts: 599

Bikes: pinarellos and a colnago

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
thats what bicycles should be about!
G piny parnas is offline  
Old 09-22-08, 06:16 PM
  #5  
Jay H
One less car
 
Jay H's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: The Berkshires, MA
Posts: 981

Bikes: '08 Soma Groove (commuter/long distance tourer), '97 Lemond Zurich (road commuter/tourer),'01 Seven Axiom Ti, '03 Look KG381i, '01 Santa Cruz Superlite X

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Sounds like the world lost another fine soul. The soul of a bicycle is it's mechanic. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story of a man who sounded like he lives a full and fullfilling life.

Jay
Jay H is offline  
Old 09-22-08, 06:17 PM
  #6  
MadeInItaly
Banned
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Point Lookout, NY
Posts: 1,210
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Very cool. He looked good for 90. And those look like WW2 service ink. Salt of the earth... Thank you for sharing.
MadeInItaly is offline  
Old 09-22-08, 06:28 PM
  #7  
FlatTop
holyrollin'
 
FlatTop's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: L.B.N.J.U.S.A.
Posts: 1,324

Bikes: Raleigh, Rudge, James 3spds., and a cast of many

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Here's to Johnny. And he couldn't have a better friend to carry on the tradition.
FlatTop is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 07:04 AM
  #8  
mike
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
mike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Snowy midwest
Posts: 5,392
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by MadeInItaly View Post
Very cool. He looked good for 90. And those look like WW2 service ink. Salt of the earth... Thank you for sharing.
Thanks for all the kind words about Johnny, fellows.

MadeInItaly - yes, those were some old-ink tats. Think about it, Johnny lived through nearly every war in the past century - starting with WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and all the Bush's wars. He didn't fight in all of them, of course, but had to watch his friends, family, and children fight in all of them.
mike is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 10:34 AM
  #9  
Mondoman
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: A Latvian in Seattle
Posts: 1,020
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks for the great tribute, Mike -- it makes me want to have known Johnny!
Mondoman is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 10:39 AM
  #10  
J B Bell
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 205

Bikes: 2007 ICE Trice T; 2008 Brompton M6L; 2009 Surly LHT; 2010 Surly Cross Check

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The handlebar gesture was really touching, and something I would never have thought of. A fine tribute.

Excuse me, I have something in my eye.
J B Bell is offline  
Old 09-24-08, 02:06 PM
  #11  
Dale-Murray
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 39
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I feel the same way J B Bell.
Dale-Murray is offline  
Old 09-24-08, 02:09 PM
  #12  
Oldpeddaller
Senior Member
 
Oldpeddaller's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Maidstone, Kent, England
Posts: 2,627

Bikes: 1970 Holdsworth Mistral, Vitus 979, Colnago Primavera, Corratec Hydracarbon, Massi MegaTeam, 1935 Claud Butler Super Velo, Carrera Virtuoso, Viner, 1953 Claud Butler Silver Jubilee, 1954 Holdsworth Typhoon, 1966 Claud Butler Olympic Road, 1982 Claud

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Me too.
Oldpeddaller is offline  
Old 09-24-08, 02:51 PM
  #13  
RockyMtnMerlin
Senior Member
 
RockyMtnMerlin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Laramie Wyoming
Posts: 2,970

Bikes: Merlin Extralight Topolino Wheels Campy Record

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
From what I have read here, I'm afraid there are too few like Johnny in this world. I'm sure he will be missed.
__________________
RockyMtnMerlin is offline  
Old 09-24-08, 03:01 PM
  #14  
avmanansala
Senior Member
 
avmanansala's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 401

Bikes: Cannondale Road Warrior

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
First, sorry for your loss. Sounds like a great guy. We need more people like Johnny.
avmanansala is offline  
Old 09-25-08, 04:26 AM
  #15  
mike
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
mike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Snowy midwest
Posts: 5,392
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I posted this in another thread because I thought it was so cool, but...

I went to his funeral today.

First of all, the handlebar grips that I gave to Johnny when he was at the hospital were on display at the funeral. I thought that was neat.

The very clever florist asked his family about Johnny and they told her about his love for bicycles.

When she made the flower arrangements, for anybody that called her shop (in a small town, so she got most of the calls), she added Johnny's bicycle parts and tools to the flower arrangements. IT was magnificent.

Attached is a photo of one of the arrangements. If you look hard, you can see his wrench, two spoke wrenches, and a kids wheel. Other arrangements had cranks, sprockets, etc. It was really neat and personal.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg
mike is offline  
Old 09-25-08, 04:57 AM
  #16  
tommy gayle
Senior Member
 
tommy gayle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 63

Bikes: Nishiki Backroad;: fuji mountain bike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Mike I'm new but I appreciate you tell us and your story about Johnny but it sound like he passed the though of kindness along to you
I know that you will miss him
sorry for your loss
tommy gayle is offline  
Old 09-25-08, 05:35 AM
  #17  
BadKarma62
But I don't like SPAM...
 
BadKarma62's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: SW Missouri
Posts: 147

Bikes: 1994 Univega Alpina 5.2 MTB

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Guys like that only come along once in life and they truly leave a void in their passing. Mr. Borrowitz will be missed but it sounds like he will not be forgotten. Could be the wrench has been passed on?

Hang in there bro.

Karma
BadKarma62 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.