Until Saturday, it had been nearly 30 years since Ruth Bourquin Wrightam rode on the back of a motorcycle.
In honor of her 99th birthday, family and friends gathered to allow her to relive the pasttime she often shared with her husband, the late Roy “Buck” Dale Wrightam.
“Motorcycling has always been her thing,” her grandson, Dale Wrightham, said at her birthday celebration Saturday. “It’s always been something she’s talked about.”
Ruth turned 99 years old on Friday. With some persuasion from those close to her, she decided to reminisce the days she rode along with her husband of 54 years and jumped on the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
Family friend Randy Higgins let the birthday girl ride with him from her grandson’s home on Castlepines Drive in Greenbrier to the Bono Baptist Church along Highway 285.
“It was fun,” Ruth said of the six-mile round trip ride. “There was so much commotion going on [at first], but we got out and rode down to the end of the road. After we got away from everything, we were both relaxed. It was peaceful.”
Dale said his grandmother was known to ride along with his grandfather, who served as a deputy sheriff in Florida for several years.
In 1986, Buck was recognized as the “Number One Deputy in the United States” and featured a year later in the National Enquirer as the world’s “oldest motorcycle cop.”
Buck was the only motorcycle deputy of Lake County, Florida, at the time. For years, Ruth tagged along with him as a special deputy. Together, the two formed more than 200 crime watches.
“I used to ride with my husband all the time,” Ruth said Saturday. “It seemed like the thing to do. I rode everywhere.”
Ruth said not everyone agreed with her decision to ride along with Buck, noting some family members criticized her actions.
“One time I rode up to Illinois and my aunt got upset,” Ruth recalled. “She said, ‘You know girls don’t do things like that. That’s nasty.’ She was so mad at me for riding a motorcycle, but I really enjoyed it.”
Ruth said she was thankful her family gathered in celebration of her turning 99 years old, noting it had been a while since everyone was able to get together under one roof.
Dale said the family plans to have a birthday bash for her 100-year milestone.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do to top this one,” he said.