Ghost Bikes Boston, a bicyclist group that places bicycles painted white at the sites of fatal crashes, organized the memorial ceremony in collaboration with Willis’s family.
“He had a father, he had [seven] brothers and [four] sisters who really loved him,” Willis’s father, Frank Willis–who drove up from his home in Jacksonville, North Carolina, for the service–told the 40 or so people gathered near the Out of Town News kiosk.
“He got me through the worst part of my life,” a friend said. He recalled Willis urging him: “You’re not going to lay down and do nothing. Get up and make the day better for your wife and you.”
Rev. Laura Everett, part of the Ghost Bikes group, led the ceremony and gave a history of ghost bikes. “It started because whenever there’s a death, people need to mark it.” Everett said ghost bikes originated in St. Louis in 2003 and since has spread internationally. “What we do today ties Darryl and ties you to a network all over the world. We placed the first bike for Marcia Deihl in 2015. … A woman riding her bike from the grocery store and got hit by a dump truck.”
“So many lives,” Everett said, “so many ghost bikes.”