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Another Member Story

Submitted by: Gene A. Hanselman
Chapter OH-D3

A sign over Charlie's counter read "If you have to ask, why do I ride motorcycles, you  would never understand my answer." Charlie and his wife, Bev owned a mower repair shop on the outskirts of Marysville, Ohio. His little shop grew and in a few years he built a new building and expanded the business into Marysville where he and Bev were very successful selling and servicing lawn & garden equipment. He also sold and installed many motorcycle accessories and serviced all bikes. Charlie was a Charter Member of Marysville GWRRA Chapter D3 and was instrumental in its beginning.

I had known Charlie for a long, long time - he was the oldest of 4 children, a brother Martin and sisters Donna and Carol. His parents, Stanley and Viola were good friends with my mom and dad as well as neighbors. They also belonged and attended the same garden club, farm bureau and church. The sign that hung in Charlie's shop had more meaning and sentiment than most people knew or could imagine, but I understood the purpose and reason of why it was there.

Charlie started riding in his late teens when Martin picked up an old 40s style fixer upper - I think it was an Indian. Charlie had a lot of motorcycle savvy. When it came to engine work, he could tear anything apart and make it run much better. He enjoyed all work from changing tires to fine tuning. It didn't take long for the brothers to get the old motorcycle running. Charlie and Martin took turns riding that old bike all over and sometimes they rode it together. Marty rode it the most because he was still in school and didn't have a job, except working on the farm with his dad.

On a late summer evening close to dusk, Marty stopped by our house to chat. He knew I loved that old bike and since he was 3 years older than me, had a motorcycle and a jalopy, he was the coolest guy around. I wanted to go for a ride but I didn't have my chores finished so I stayed home. Marty left to get gas at the closest station, which was located in Milford Center. After filling the tank he headed home, about three miles away. On the last curve before the home stretch, Marty took a high-side when old man Brooks went left of center swerving to miss Red Barker's ducks and chickens in the middle of the road. The gas cap came off the old bike and the left crash bar wrapped around Martin's leg and held him in place as the bike caught fire. Marty was trapped and burned beyond recognition.

The loss of Martin was devastating to the whole community and his family was again grieving the loss of a child. Little Carol had wandered off one day at a young age and drowned in Big Darby Creek behind the family's house - she was found by Charlie.

Charlie made it through those tough times and recovered. He married Bev, had children and grandchildren and operated his mower shop and accessories store. He rode his Gold Wing until his cancer was so overwhelming he could not hold it up when he stopped. Charlie loved motorcycles. He never stopped riding nor was he ever embarrassed or ashamed to explain why he rode a motorcycle. Charlie was a good father, husband and friend. He was a hard worker and good business man. I shall never forget him or the sign that hung in his shop. It is a credo that I truly understand and live by, because I have a family member that was institutionalized in a vegetative state until he died, due to a motorcycle accident at the age of 21.

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