If you were looking to shop for a new motorcycle, get some work done or just visit Forman Harley Davidson on Thursday, you were out of luck.
The store was closed, a small note taped to each entrance door acknowledging the reason for the staff’s absence. But if you stopped by at noon or a little bit after, the parking lot couldn’t have been more alive.
About 200 people departed Forman on Thursday on motorcycles and in cars as Payne County Sheriff’s Office and Stillwater Police led the way with lights and sirens activated. They came to celebrate Clarence H. “Bud” Boss, 72, who was killed in a collision March 17 while riding his Harley Davidson.
“It’s devastating,” said Molly Williams of accounting at Forman. “When we found out … he was just here Saturday. He’s just a huge presence. Everybody, they call in or come by, he’s a face they look for. For some reason, that’s who they gravitate to.”
Bud was born Aug. 6, 1945, in DeBerry, Texas, but he grew up in Pawnee where his grandparents lived. From his obituary at Poteet Funeral Home: “When he started first grade Ella Dietz was his teacher and on the first day when she asked him what his real name was, he told her ‘Bud.’ Mrs. Dietz said he must have another name, but Bud didn’t know it. That day when he got home from school his mother finally had to tell him his real name – and he had to learn to spell it, which he disliked.
“Bud and Kathy spent years traveling and enjoying trips together. They tallied countless hours and logged countless miles together on their Harley Davidson, with some of their closest friends. The two have said that taking trips on their bike were some of the best times of their lives. Bud enjoyed playing golf with his grandson, Colt, riding his Harley and planning his next project. He will be remembered most for his gentle smile, his genuine and giving heart and his love of life. It’s often been said that Bud never met a stranger, and all who knew him, loved him.”
That sentiment was echoed by all at Forman. Some had known him for several years, others for decades, but they all shared the same general memories of Bud – his smile, his easygoing nature, his reliability and other traits.
Lynn Youngblood, general manager at Forman, began to look around her office during an interview. She pointed out the recent paint job Bud, who she described as her work husband, had given her office, as well as other work he had done around the store.
“I looked at this door and I thought, ‘Who’s going to paint that?’” Youngblood said. “There are lights out there that are still green from St. Patrick’s Day, and we girls have been saying ‘Who’s going to change those?’
“He could draw a crowd. He would sit on a bike and talk with everyone out there while I sat here, finally able to get some work done and prepare paperwork before I was ready to help people buy their bikes.”
Several employees repeated Bud’s motto in life – “Bigger, better, faster,” and how it applied to his love for motorcycles. Ben Morgan, who knew Bud growing up after moving to Pawnee as a child in 1986, talked of Bud’s love for horsepower and how everything he did had to be blacked out. Nathan Meloy and Becky Lockett had worked at Forman for five and six years, respectively, and both spoke about how easy it was to converse with Bud, regardless of whether opinions were the same. “He wouldn’t try to talk you in to anything, but he wouldn’t talk you out, either. He took you as far as you wanted to go.”
Doc McClanahan shared a different connection with Bud, who was a member of the Oklahoma National Guard and spent 18 months in Vietnam. McClanahan is also a veteran, and although he’s only worked at Forman for about five years, their bond was special to him.
“We usually had a few chats here and there about stuff that people didn’t need to hear. Most of the time, it was good things; we’d talk about places we’d been in Thailand at different times and stuff like that, how some things haven’t changed. Most of the time, we were talking motorcycles. He didn’t abuse it (horsepower), but appreciated it when it was there. We spent a lot of time together shooting the breeze, he was a good man.”
Lockett described Bud as one of her best friends and said that with 10-12 employees working at Forman, it’s easy for the group to be a close-knit family. And all described him as such – part of the family, there at all times and ready to help however he could.
“If there was a more genuine, honest person out there, I never met ‘em,” Brandon Hall said. “He was just a great dude all around. Always happy, never really had anything bad to say about anyone, just a good dude. He loved this shop, loved the whole culture.”