By Carol Latter
Imagine riding a bicycle from New York City to Tucson, Arizona, and back – for 29 consecutive years.
Joe Repole, Jr. ’58 has done just that, or at least close to the equivalent distance. In late December, he posted on Facebook, “I rode 68.5 miles today. I now have 25 more miles to ride to reach my goal of 5,000 miles for the year. Happy trails! Life is beautiful!”
In all, Repole, 79, has ridden 142,655 miles on his bicycle. And don’t bother to question the math. A mathematics major while at Trinity, the Wethersfield, Connecticut, native enjoyed a long and successful career as an accountant and financial manager. Let’s just say he’s good with numbers.
How did he rack up more miles than most people put on their car?
After graduating from Trinity, Repole joined the U.S. Air Force and trained as an accountant. He subsequently worked at Merck in New Jersey and obtained his master’s degree at Seton Hall University before landing a job with Combustion Engineering in Windsor, Connecticut.
In 1979, three years after moving to the Boston area to take a job as a comptroller for Maguire Engineering (now CDR Maguire), Repole joined the Charles River Wheelmen, a bicycle club. At the time, the Wheelmen – a group of recreational cyclists who get together for weekly bicycle rides and frequent social events – had just a couple hundred members. Now it has 3,000. “I ride with them every chance I can get, every Sunday,” says Repole.
In 1992, club organizers suggested that members try each month to participate in “a century” (100 miles) or “a metric century” (100 kilometers) within a 12-hour span, alone or with a group.
Repole not only accepted the challenge but by press time had completed 277 consecutive monthly centuries spanning 23 years. This year, he even braved Boston’s snowiest February on record – facing down 19-degree temperatures, snow-covered roads, frozen water bottles, a broken rear derailleur cable, spokes covered in slush, and the drawstring of his wind pants entangled in his freewheel – so as not to break his streak. Soon after, he posted on Facebook: “The streak continues into March!”
But biking isn’t his only extracurricular activity. Repole has remained actively involved with his alma mater. He has served as the 1958 class agent since 1979, writing letters, calling classmates to ask for gifts to the College, and drumming up school spirit.
“I love that almost as much as biking,” Repole says. “It’s an opportunity to call my classmates, talk to them, and put the hit on them for money as well,” he adds with a laugh. “I know more people in my class now than when I was at Trinity.”
One college friend is Robert Coykendall, who graduated from Trinity a year after Repole with a degree in physics and spent 27 years working for United Technologies. Coykendall, a 1959 class agent, met Repole through alumni activities, and the two became friends.
“Joe is upbeat, a very positive person, and devoted to his alma mater,” Coykendall says, describing the father of four children, nine grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren as a pleasure to talk to. “I think both Joe and I recognize the value of a liberal arts education, not just finance or science, but everything,” he says.
Repole, who played soccer, was a member of the Brownell and Newman clubs, and received an ROTC award while at Trinity, credits the College for his career success, so he’s passionate about giving back. He has been active on Reunion planning committees and attended almost all of his Reunions, marking his 55th Reunion in 2013. He also has attended many Trinity events in the Boston area.
But Repole doesn’t just ask others for contributions to the College. “I’ve been giving to Trinity for 57 years – every year since I’ve graduated, from day one,” he says. “I owe a lot to the College. My life and my career probably wouldn’t be what it was except for Trinity.”