Lillian and Butch James loved Harleys. So their daughter honored their memory with a last ride

Last updated: September 07. 2013 10:47PM - 3455 Views
JON O’CONNELL joconnell@timesleader.com

A motorcycle-pulled hearse takes the remains of Lillian and Butch James on one final ride Saturday on Hazle Street in Ashley.
A motorcycle-pulled hearse takes the remains of Lillian and Butch James on one final ride Saturday on Hazle Street in Ashley.
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HANOVER TWP. — Michelle Hurysh wanted her parents to get one last ride through town. Hurysh, part of a family of motorcycle enthusiasts, honored her parents’ memory Saturday with a one-of-a-kind funeral procession.

Hurysh’s mother, Lillian James, 66, died in May and her father Butch James, 65, passed a few weeks ago, both of natural causes. The two spent many of the best moments of their lives together on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, Hurysh said.

Lehman Funeral Home on Hazle Street, Wilkes-Barre, began offering a motorcycle-pulled hearse service this summer for the families it serves.

Hurysh’s parents cremains were fastened inside the custom-built hearse and pulled by a 2013 Harley-Davidson Road King trike along some of their frequented roads.

The trike pulls the casket aboard a fifth-wheel trailer. Funeral Director Pat Lehman wanted the ensemble to resemble a Victorian horse-drawn hearse like those pulled a century ago.

It’s trimmed with brushed, silver-colored lanterns and rolls on tall wheels. It was built by Tombstone Hearse Co. in Bedford County to match the Lehmans’ specifications. The side walls are made of glass with ornate trim. Lehman said it was built with windows with veterans in mind — to display the American flag draped over the casket.

“Maybe they were a veteran or a first-responder, or maybe dad was just not a Cadillac guy,” Lehman said. “We just had this built to offer it to our families at no additional charge — just another way to honor their loved ones.”

The ride was very special for Hurysh, who rode with her husband, something she never does. There’s nothing like a road trip, riding as a pack with her family, she said. Her first bike was a Suzuki, a good ride for a student, but she longed for the signature rumble of a Harley-Davidson — the kind her parents always rode.

She remembers a Christmas when she was a child and her dad parked the motorcycle in the living room, a common practice for riders who didn’t have a warm place to store and work on their bikes in winter. “When you didn’t have a garage, that bike came in the house,” she said.

She remembers decorating his bike along the Christmas tree. Butch left his last motorcycle, , a 1990 Harley-Davidson Softail, to Hurysh.

“I haven’t ridden it yet,” Hurysh said. “He would flip if nobody rode it. They’re not made to sit.”

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