A President's Reflections

Memorial for a biker

Posted on March 22, 2009

I am in Denver for meetings through Tuesday and spent yesterday afternoon at a biker bar in Greeley (about 1 hour north) at a memorial service.  One of my dearest friends, Dan Carey, is the president of Edgewood College (WI) and his younger brother Trapper suddenly passed away at home In Greeley, so Pat and I went up to pay our respects.

When we pulled into the parking lot of The Plantation, it was already filling up with Harleys and filing in were some tough looking characters.   Most were wearing leather and many had biker “colors” from one group (gang) or the other.  Tattoos, and a lot of them, were the order of the day.  The bar itself, dark and walled in rough hewn wood, looked designed to withstand a brawl and I’m pretty sure it had seen its fair share.

Trapper was by all accounts a genuine character.  He rode with these guys, had been stabbed, had laid a bike down at 65 mph when a tire blew, went to Europe for three weeks and came back three years later.  Pictures of him showed a broad infectious smile and the stories described a man who lived life almost entirely on his own terms, good and bad.  He sounded like one of those guys who never met a stranger and who could charm or fight his way out of any situation.

Dan started the story telling and my favorite was told by a one of the bikers.

He said Trapper had called him one spring day and said to meet him in a town some two hours away and over one of the mountain passes.  So this guy and a friend bundle up and soon find themselves in a howling blizzard at the top of the pass (on motorcycles remember).  They broke down and had to fix a bike in the snow.  They finally got over the pass and back into warmth and sunshine and arrive.  Searching for Trapper, they found him in a bar where suddenly gunshots ring out and two rival gangs started to do battle.  Soon the place was surrounded by police cars and a helicopter overhead.  And just as they were ready to curse Trapper for a day gone horribly bad from start to finish, he looked at them with that broad smile and said “See, I told you we’d have fun!”

Others told stories, one read a poem, and there were lots of toasts of shots and beers made in Trapper’s honor at the various tables.  Pat and I agreed that while it was one of the more unusual memorial services we ever attended, it was also one of the most heartfelt and genuine and lovely.  It was a slice of Colorado life and culture that most visitors would not get to sample and I’m glad we did and only wish we had known Trapper Carey.

3 thoughts on “Memorial for a biker

  1. Dan says:

    Paul,
    Your willingness to take your personal time and attend Trapper’s memorial speaks volumes about your friendship. You captured much of the spirit of our brothers life. Thank you.

  2. Dawn says:

    Dr. LeBlanc,
    Thank you for writing this wonderful piece. You captured the essence of my wonderful, unforgettable Godfather through the things you witnessed that day.
    Dawn

  3. Paul Leblanc says:

    You’re welcome, Dawn. I wish I had known him personally.

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