I wish you knew Raoul like I knew Raoul. Your life would have been better for the experience.
You might have actually known him better because I only met him a little over 5 years ago. Oh, I saw him walking around town with a pleasant smile on his face. But with his glasses, beard and curled up handlebar mustache he somehow looked out of place. It was as if he was a science professor on his way to class at some moss-covered college. And he could have been.
He was born in the university town of Iowa City, Iowa, an only child to Albert Raoul Delmare and Maxine Doris Lewis-Delmare an art professor and an English professor. His father never used his own first name. That’s how Raoul was named, the French spelling as he always pointed out. Raoul’s great-grandparents came from France, and I think he was comfortable with a French name but he wasn’t sure about us so he liked to go by the name Raleigh, like the bikes he once sold in a bicycle shop he managed.
His parents divorced and Raleigh followed his mom around the country for her teaching jobs. First in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood and then into the culture shock of the South Texas city of Kingsville. The king of the sea but a fish out of water. That’s where he graduated high school and then Texas A&I University. He was a proud Javelina. Look it up. I had to.
He tried his hand at teaching life sciences and history in Alice, Texas. I suspect elementary and middle schoolers may not have been as enthusiastic in their pursuit of knowledge as Raleigh. He was a treasure trove of knowledge too. I fact checked him a few times because nobody could possibly know that much about almost every subject. He was always spot on. In a two-person office you can learn a lot about each other over 5 years. I learned not to doubt him and that he had made a difference in at least one troubled student’s life.
He spent the next few years in and around Austin, Texas working jobs like Taco Bell, beer and wine buyer for a Whole Foods store and the bicycle shop. Raleigh painted houses in Kansas City for a high-end restoration business. Bikes and cycling were a particular passion of his. Show him a picture from a vintage bike book and he could tell you more than the book could. History was also his thing. His own history left him looking for a place that felt like home. Home, Kansas to be exact, where he had spent most of his childhood summers in the home of his Grandma and Grandpa Lewis. That’s what brought him to us.
You may remember him from the Astro 3 Theater, Sandy’s Pantry, the Pony Express Museum, the Marshall County Historical Society or his last stop at State Farm. Or maybe you just wondered who that guy on the old-time big wheel bike was. He loved dogs. In any case, I wish you could have known him.
I won’t tell you when he was born because as much as we wanted to help him celebrate, he didn’t like celebrating his birthday. I just think he didn’t want anyone to make a fuss. But Raoul Leroi Delmare died October 14, 2023, at age 67, too young for a man that kind.
He is survived by us, and in keeping with his wishes there’ll be no service. But we, anyone who knew him or wish they had, are going to gather on Saturday, October 21st at 2 p.m., at the shelter on the Blue River Rail Trail next to In-Line Construction. We’ll spill a little beer on the ground, play a song, go for a walk or ride and think about life and our friend Raleigh.To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Raoul "Raleigh" L. Delmare, please visit our flower store.