You didn’t have to know Shin Iisaka very well to find out he had a spirit of kindness and generosity.
“I’ve had so many people tell me that Shin would ask them about their family and their kids and he didn’t even know them,” Joe Bechtel said.
“That’s just the kind of person he was,” Bechtel said. “He was always ready to extend a hand of friendship instead of a fist. We could all learn from that.”
Bechtel is one of many in the Grandview Heights community mourning the loss of Iisaka, who died June 2 after being hit by a car while riding his bike in Fairfield County.
“He was my riding buddy,” Bechtel said. “We spent so much time riding in the saddle on our bikes and riding together in the minivan on the way to our kids’ soccer games.
“Shin was a kind, sweet man,” he said.
“You’d never hear anyone say anything negative about him.”
Iisaka, 47, was riding with other bicyclists June 2 westbound on Basil Western Road west of Pickerington Road when he was struck at 8:18 p.m. by a car being driven by Joshua P. Osmar, 42, of Canal Winchester.
Osmar also was traveling westbound.
The crash remained under investigation as of June 5.
The suddenness of Iisaka’s loss is hard to absorb, Bechtel said.
“He was always looking to do something for others. That’s part of the Grandview way,” he said.
Both men were members of the Grandview Heights Pelotonia team.
“He had had some health issues and wasn’t as healthy as he wanted to be,” Bechtel said, “but Shin was a grinder and he just grinded it out to get back out there. When he did, it was, ‘Shin, it’s so good to have you back.’
“He had just completed a 100-mile ride on Saturday (May 30) and a 50-mile ride on Sunday,” Bechtel said. “I’d invited him to go on a ride through the Grandview hills on Tuesday, but he had already decided to take part in the ride with other cyclists (in Fairfield County).”
Bechtel said he formed a connection with Iisaka not only through their love of bicycling, but through their shared experience of having sons who played soccer together.
“My wife and I would ride to games with Shin and his wife,” he said. “We’d talk about soccer, our children, soccer strategy and just about experiences and our families.”
Grandview Heights Schools Superintendent Andy Culp said the more one got to know Iisaka, the more one understood how special he was.
“Shin was a beacon of positivity and a bicycle enthusiast,” he said, and those traits came together in his avid participation in Pelotonia.
“He was such a caring person,” Culp said. “Everyone who knew him is devastated by his loss.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up for donations to go toward supporting the education of Iisaka’s children and general family needs.
As of June 5, nearly 400 people had together donated almost $46,000.
In addition, Iisaka’s profile page on the Pelotonia website had drawn more than $3,900 in donations toward the cause as of June 5, most of them made since the June 2 crash.
His statement on the page shows his commitment to the Pelotonia cause of funding cancer research:
“It’s my privilege to be part of this greater movement. We’ve lost one too many already, and if this saves one, that’s already enough ... The angels from above will lift me through the course on the event day. Those fighting will give me strength to ride up the hills.”
Iisaka is survived by his wife, Bree; son, Kai, 17; and daughter Ayla, 15.