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A father’s legacy: 1972 Harley Davidson comes back home

A 1972 Harley Electra Glide is back in the Skime family’s possession after being sold 37 years ago. The vintage motorcycle was purchased back by Joyce Stardig, left, and will be enjoyed by her daughter Cassandra Skime Martin and son James Skime and their children. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — David Skime may be gone, but his legacy rides on.

Cassandra Skime Martin and James Skime describe their father David Skime as a man who loved to tinker around with anything mechanical. And that included motorcycles.

“He would invent things for us kids to have fun,” Cassandra said.

Both grew up around motorcycles and started riding at a young age.

“They were always kind of around,” James said.

In 1973, David Skime bought a 1972, candy apple red, full dress Electra Glide Harley Davidson.

Cassandra vividly recalls going for rides on the back of the bike with her father. “I remember riding on that bike and him driving down the road no handed,” Martin said.

Two years after buying that bike, suffering from diabetes, Skime died at the age of 32 from a heart attack the night before he was scheduled for a kidney transplant.

Not wanting her then 14-year-old son James to hurt himself trying to ride the Harley, Skime’s wife Joyce sold David’s motorcycle to Edward Gersich two years after James’ death.

“I decided I had to sell it or he might take it for a ride,” she said.

A total of 37 years would pass before Joyce and her children would see that Harley again.

And now, it is back home.

Texas meeting

Joyce Skime later remarried and is now Joyce Stardig.

In 1997, Stardig and her husband were living at their vacation home in Texas when, on a chance encounter, they ran into Gersich at an RV park.

“I said ‘That’s the guy I sold David’s Harley to, I’m sure it is,’” Stardig recalled.

She approached Gersich and told him that if he ever wanted to sell the bike, she would buy it back for her children.

“At the time I really wasn’t interested in selling it back,” Gersich said.

But Gersich and Stardig remained friends after that Texas meeting; eventually both of their families came to live next to one another in the Texas winters. Both families live in Bemidji in the summer months. Through the years, Stardig continued to remind Gersich about possibly selling back David’s Harley.

And so, last summer, Gersich approached Stardig about buying back the bike.

“At my age, I was thinking that I didn’t want to do the two-wheeler anymore,” Gersich, 74, said.

Stardig said she payed twice what she originally sold the motorcycle for — but it was well worth it. She wanted it for her children; it was a part of their father.

“I would have paid him more,” Stardig said.

A part of the family

The 42-year-old bike, which has only 32,000 miles on it, now will be a family heirloom passed from one generation to the next, starting with James, 51, and then on to Cassandra’s son David, 21, named after his grandfather.

Stardig described James as someone very similar to his father, especially the desire to tinker.

“James is a little bit like him, he can do just about anything, too, and if he hasn’t ever done it before, he sure is going to try,” Stardig said.

The motorcycle serves as a memorial to a husband and father whose legacy still lives on in his wife and children.

“It’s a remembrance,” Cassandra said.