For at least a decade, Wantzelius and Jerry Baker have been the only two cyclists riding the STP in consecutive years who were among the original 70 riders on the 200-mile bike ride the first time in 1979.
Wantzelius passed away in Hope, BC, on his way home from the Tour de Lacs bike ride in eastern Washington last month. He was 61.
The Maple Valley resident had just announced his retirement from Boeing at the time of his death, according to a complete obituary at the Boeing Employees' Bicycle Club website. He was a long-time member of the club and was finishing his term as treasurer.
Wantzelius did more than ride his bike. He was interested in photography and ham radio and had served as a volunteer firefighter in Maple Valley for several years. For many years he was a member of the Renton Nonmotorized Transportation Advisory Committee. But bicycling did take up a huge chunk of his time.
According to his obit, he was a year-round bicycle commuter with a daily ride of about 42 miles. He rode his bicycle more than he drove. A story in the Seattle Times in 1999 said that Wantzelius's pickup had logged 135,000 miles since 1973, but he had ridden his five bikes more than 240,000 miles in that time.
Every year, except for one, he rode the STP in a single day, often returning to Seattle by bicycle the following day. His only two-day STP came in 2006 after he had suffered a heart attack that May.
A memorial is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, at the Lake Wilderness Lodge in Maple Valley. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name to the American Heart Association.
The Paul Wantzelius Memorial Bike Ride will leave the lodge at 12:30 p.m. after the service.