Love and Respect,
DAYTONA BEACH — Bruce Rossmeyer, one of the nation’s largest Harley-Davidson dealers, was killed today in a motorcycle crash in Wyoming.
A family friend said Rossmeyer, 66, of Ormond Beach, was riding with several motorcyclists when they pulled out to pass a pickup. Rossmeyer was the last in line and was killed when the truck strayed into his lane, hitting his motorcycle, according to the friend who didn’t want to be named.
The Wyoming Highway Patrol had not confirmed an identity, but a spokeswoman said a fatal motorcycle accident occurred in Sweetwater County on Highway 28 between Lander and Farson about 11 a.m. today, the Rapid City Journal reported.
The road where the accident occurred is heavily traveled by tourists, according to the newspaper. It runs from Farson over the scenic South Pass area to Lander at the base of the Wind River Mountain Range.
Rossmeyer, who comes to Sturgis each year for its motorcycle Rally, was with a group of custom motorcycle builders known as the Hamsters on their way to the Sturgis rally, Al Rieman, managing partner of Black Hills Harley-Davidson in Rapid City, told the Rapid City Journal.
A woman at the front desk of the Harley dealership at Destination Daytona said, “The family isn’t ready to make a statement. The media will be notified when they are.”
Daytona Beach Mayor Glenn Ritchey said the news “is a terrible tragedy for our area. In addition to being a prominent businessman, Bruce Rossmeyer was involved in many charitable activities for the community. He’ll be greatly missed. My heart goes out to his family.”
Kevin Kilian, senior vice president of The Chamber, Daytona Beach Halifax Area, who worked with Rossmeyer on Bike Week events was also was saddened by the news.
“Obviously, Bruce Rossmeyer was a big part of the business community and certainly the motorcycle community,” he said. “The argument could be made that his presence downtown built Bike Week into the event it is today. And his extension of that event to the Ormond Beach area was a major boost.”
“It’s surreal,” he added.
George Mirabal, executive vice president of The Chamber, Daytona Beach Halifax Area, worked with Rossmeyer for several years in conjunction with Bike Week and other community events
“Everybody’s first reaction is just shock,” he said. “Bruce really has been a leader in the community. And I was around when he shaped Bike Week on Beach Street. Everything had been on Main Street till then. And then he reshaped it and spread it to U.S. 1 and to Ormond Beach, to everyone’s benefit.”
Rossmeyer’s heart for children was a big part of his life, local officials say, whether it was contributing and helping to found Camp Boggy Creek for children with life-threatening illnesses or helping the Boys & Girls clubs, including the Rossmeyer Family Holly Hill club, named in his honor.
“He was a champion for kids here,” said Joe Sullivan, chief professional officer for the Boys & Girls Club of Volusia and Flagler Counties. “He overcame some challenges and got in trouble as a young man and said the kids in the club remind him a lot of him.”
He continued serving on the board of Camp Boggy Creek, southwest of DeLand and was excited, officials say, at the June meeting describing the plans for the 15th annual Daytona Harley-Davidson Ride for Children in October.
“We are just heart sick. This is just horrible,” said Sarah Gurtis, spokeswoman for Boggy Creek. “All you had to do was see him around the campers and you knew there was no false smoke. His heart was so focused on those kids.”
In a 2006 interview with the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Rossmeyer said “when you go over there and see the results of those kids who are having such a good time, it just gets into your heart.” NASCAR driver Kyle Petty formed his own camp for children modeled after Camp Boggy Creek after the death of his son. Rossmeyer helped him to form Victory Junction Gang Camp in North Carolina after years of driving with him in the local ride for children. Rossmeyer continued every year to hold similar fundraising rides for Victory Junction and other charities each year.
“You see him on billboards and he’s a big guy, but you have to be that big because he has that much heart inside him,” Petty said. “That is a blow to a lot of people. It is far reaching. He was like a pebble that you drop in the water and the ripple effect goes on and on. His presence is going to be missed not only in the motorcycle industry but the communities he was a part of.”
Petty said it’s even a bigger blow after Rossmeyer and him also lost a mutual friend last year, Click Baldwin, the owner of the Carlonia Harley-Davidson dealership in Gastonia. He also was headed to the Sturgis Rally on his motorcycle.
Thursday is just the beginning of the 69th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which will runs through Aug. 9, said Lonnie Isam, owner of Competition Distribution, who deals in vintage Harley Davidsons and builds 1913 replicas.
Isam’s business is at the heart of the event activity.
“I can see his booth from here,” said Isam, who often raced motorcycles in Daytona Beach. “The event is so large. There will be a half-million people here and I am sure a lot of people will stop by his booth. The word will spread and everybody will be sad.”
Staff Writers Don Lindley, John Gallas, Linda Trimble, Jim Witters, Audrey Parente, Deborah Circelli, Tony Briggs and Dinah Voyles Pulver contributed to this story