By request, my remembrance address from Ardys’ memorial service, Wednesday, July 24th, 2013:
We have a club that likes to call itself “The World’s Toughest Riders”. However, one of our greatest leaders and inspirations, the example we hope to follow whenever we get on a motorcycle, has always been Ardys Kellerman – one of the kindest, gentlest, and happiest people you would ever meet.
The first time Ardys visited us at the family farm in New Jersey some years ago, she promptly set up her thermarest pad and sleeping bag in one of the unoccupied barn stalls, upsetting my sister. She was worried about a lady old enough to be our mom sleeping on the barn floor, but that was what Ardys wanted to do – she loved animals, and the barn was filled with horses and cats. She explained that these were luxuy accommodations – there was a roof over her head, unlike the parking lots and gas stations she was accustomed to sleeping in all across the country! Besides, she didn’t want to mess up a perfectly good bed that someone else could sleep in. Susan gave up trying to convince her to stay in the guest bedroom, shaking her head.
Ardys’ riding accomplishments are, of course, legendary – four Iron Butt Rallies, over 1 million miles on BMW motorcycles, over 100,000 miles ridden in one year at the age of seventy-eight, and countless thousand mile days. Yet, despite all the time on the road, all the years and miles, Ardys never lost sight of the most important part of all that motorcycling – the people whom she met and rode with along the way.
She instantly became a friend to everyone she crossed paths with. She amazed beginners and non-riders, loved sharing her experiences with them, and her humility and self-deprecating sense of humor always made her approachable,easy, and fun to speak with. She felt that there was nothing extraordinary about an eighty-one year old great grandmother riding alone across the country. It was simply what she loved to do – so, why not? She inspired and gave hope to everyone, whether they were motorcyclists or not. She changed people’s thinking – showing them that good will and persistence can always overcome adversity.
So, despite our sadness today, we have much for which to be thankful. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have this great lady as part of our lives, and it is an honor to count her as a friend, a mentor, a part of our family, and as someone we can hope to emulate.
Thank you, Ardys.