BELMONT, NC (WBTV) - 30 years ago, Charles Kuralt featured a Belmont man on his popular series, On The Road.
Jethro Mann became known around town as "The Bicycle Man" after that. But his history of giving started long before that.
Mann spent almost every minute of his free time fixing up bikes for neighborhood children who couldn't afford their own. He never had a bike as a child and never wanted to see another child go without.
He started a lending library of bikes from his own garage. He relied on the honor system to ensure that kids would sign out the bikes after school and return them when the sun went down.
"Our bus let out at 2:30 and it was a race to get here and get the best bike, the newest bike," said Courtney Williams. Williams was featured in the Kuralt piece as a 6 year old child. Today, the kid has grown into a 36 year old man. He credits Mr. Mann with much of his success as an adult.
"It was never about bicycles. Bicycles was sort of the means to show us you can be whatever you want to be. Whether that's a bicycle mechanic, or a banker," Williams said. He is a banker. He says thanks to the man who devoted so much of his life to doing good.
Mr. Mann passed away Monday, peacefully in his sleep according to his family. Hopefully he knew his legacy will live on long after all those bicycles have rusted away.