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"Life-of-the-party guy" lived his life in spectacular fashion
Published: August 7, 2005
Section: Local, page B7
Type of story: POST SCRIPT
© 2005- Landmark Communications Inc.

by jim washington the virginian-pilot

VIRGINIA BEACH - When something was wrong with Dennis Dayrit's truck, he took the engine out to see if he could fix it.

Last year, though he had hardly been on a bike since his days as a teen racing phenom, he bought a BMX bike on the spur of the moment, then entered a race.

Armed only with some childhood piano lessons, he also played guitar and keyboards in local bands.

"He was so fun and full of life,'' said his 27-year-old sister, Diana Dayrit . "He was the crazy, life-of-the-party guy.''

Dennis Dayrit died July 16 after a severe asthma attack. He was 33.

He was born in Roanoke to Filipino parents, Danilo and Susan Dayrit.

At the age of 13 he won the BMX World Championships, but quit racing soon after, in spectacular fashion.

After failing to win a race, a frustrated Dennis threw his second-place trophy to the ground and flung his bike away, discus-style.

"Dennis was always super-competitive,'' his sister said.

After the family moved to Virginia Beach he poured his energy into wrestling, becoming a district champion at Cox High School.

Dennis grew up listening to punk and new wave bands, sporting hairstyles from a Mohawk to shaggy surfer locks, but started getting into older acts such as The Doors, The Beatles and especially the Grateful Dead.

"He really mellowed,'' his sister said.

Dennis followed the Dead, often on spontaneous road trips, eventually notching more than 100 shows.

After working as a travel agent, he opened his own online agency. In a nod to the Dead, he dubbed the enterprise Terrapin Travel.

"He was one of those people who learned a little bit about something then delved into it,'' Diana said.

Last year Dennis bought a BMX bike he spotted in a shop window and started racing again. He told his sister the bike ''was calling to me.''

"We're so thankful he got to race again,'' she said. "He loved it.''

The family has turned into a memorial. There's a photo of Dennis with his 10-year-old daughter, Katelyn, on his shoulders.

He's got a big smile on his face, next to the company motto: "Can You Come Out and Play?''

* Reach Jim Washington at (757) 446-2536 or at postscripts@pilotonline. com.

© 2005- Virginian-Pilot

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