REMEMBERED: Wallace, left; a memorial “ghost bike,” right.
Kelly Wallace had a lot of friends. In the Merrimack Valley. In Somerville. In Allston. “Everyone knew her,” says pal Erik Lipson. “She had friends down in Florida, up in New Hampshire. In California. In Chicago.”
One of those friends was Gordon Riker, an artist from Boston-via-Halifax who was killed while riding his bike on Huntington Avenue on April 4.
The day after Riker died, Wallace wrote a message on her MySpace blog.
“I can’t even believe this. Gordon was such a safe rider. I even made fun of him for wearing a helmet before, but he laughed at me for NOT wearing one. . . . So to all my friends, all over the country, riding bikes . . . please be careful.”
Kelly Wallace was killed on May 6, after her bike was hit by a car in a crosswalk at the intersection of Cambridge Street and Harvard Avenue, in Allston. Near that spot, a stark white “ghost bike” stands in her memory, adorned with handwritten notes and a profusion of blooming flowers.
It’s the second fatal bicycle accident in Boston in a month. But no newspaper besides the Eagle-Tribune, from near Wallace’s hometown of Methuen, seemed to notice. Why?
“A lot of people who knew Kelly, or who didn’t but [who] care about Boston bike issues,” says her friend Carolyn Zaikowski, “are really confused and sad that there hasn’t been any coverage of this.”
Kelly Wallace loved animals. She loved her dog, Zero, and her two rats, Sophie and Chloe. She loved books and writing poetry. “Music and reading and words,” says friend Nikkie Wordell. “Those were her life.”
And she loved music. Everything from the Beatles to the Misfits. Kid Dynamite. Bane. Converge. “She went to shows all the time,” says her friend Jamie Press. “She was the smallest girl ever, maybe 100 pounds. And she would be on top of people, crawling to the front of the stage to sing into the microphone.”
“We used to call her our little scene queen; if there was a show, she was there,” says Wordell. “We really clicked and got along because we were both really sarcastic. She was also really caring. Always there to give you advice.”
“She didn’t always have the easiest life herself,” says friend Gina Luciano. “So it was really cool that she put everyone in front of herself.”
“Kelly was just amazing, from point A to point B,” says Bob Tyrrell, who was with her the night she died. “She was absolutely gorgeous. Every dude I know had a crush on her. She was really into tattoos; she had some awesome ink. She was just a great person and would always make you smile.”
As Wallace’s friends commemorate her life with new tattoos, mix CDs of her favorite songs, and memorial concerts (one is being planned for June at the International Community Church, in Allston), they’re also working to make sure her death was not in vain.
Immediately after the accident, Zack Smith established the Kelly Wallace Memorial Fund, a nonprofit to buy and distribute bike helmets for free. Already, the fund has raised nearly $1000, he says. At Hellmets.org — that’s H-E-L-L: “Helping Everyone Live Longer” — you can donate money or buy a helmet for yourself at cost.
Jaffney Roode, a bike messenger, didn’t know Wallace, but her death, along with Riker’s, hit home. So she’s organized a meeting on June 10 at the Democracy Center (45 Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge) to talk about how to make Boston’s streets safer.
In the meantime, wear a helmet. And remember Kelly Wallace’s own words: “please please please be careful.”