ROXANA — The tenth annual Biker Memorial ceremony on Sunday in Roxana Community Park was a bittersweet affair, as one of the event’s chief organizers was among those remembered this year.
Roy Braundmeier of Edwardsville was killed in a motorcycle accident on January 1, 2017. He would have been one of those in charge of the event again this year, but in spite of his absence, Braundmeier’s presence was felt.
“He would have said ‘keep going, keep doing it and keep the community together,’” said Roy’s son, Mike Braundmeier of Bethalto. “This was a pretty big project for him and he liked it. He was a very good-hearted man, he would do anything to help anybody.”
Roy Braundmeier’s daughter, Sonja Werner of South Roxana, said her father was pictured in The Telegraph’s coverage of the 2016 event.
“He was the main guy, and that picture in the paper was the perfect tribute about who he was, because he was all about caring, and giving respect to all the people that were here,” Werner said. “He would be the first man to do anything for anybody.”
“You might see the gruff exterior, but then you’d get to know the man inside. There were more than a thousand people at his funeral service, because that’s who he was, and that’s who all these people are,” Werner said. “You can’t just take them for what they look like on the outside, they might look rough but they will be the first ones at your side when you need them.”
The Biker Memorial ceremony is held every March in Roxana to dedicate new bricks in the memorial that have been placed since the previous year’s event. The plaza with 238 named bricks and a stone bench is the only active bikers’ memorial from Colorado to Pennsylvania, according to event organizers, and features sections for 23 area motorcycle clubs and organizations plus a section to honor independent bikers. The annual ceremony began with a bikers’ blessing at noon for the more than 1,000 motorcyclists who attended.
“It’s all about respect and honoring those who have passed,” said Bruce Jones of Bethalto, one of the event organizers. “We have this at the beginning of the riding season, kind of a good luck wish for everybody, and a hope that everybody stays safe for the year.”
“There’s nothing greater than riding, but as a rider you can’t daydream,” Jones said. “And car drivers need to pay attention and watch out for us as well.”
A rider from Pontoon Beach who calls himself Cookie is part of the Fire and Iron Motorcycle Club and has participated in the memorial ceremony for six years.
“For me riding season never ends, but a lot of the riders, this is kind of the official start to it,” Cookie said. “We lost a few brothers already this year, we hope the rest of the year goes well.”
Cookie had some advice for those driving four-wheeled vehicles.
“Stay off the phones while you are driving and keep us safe,” Cookie said. “We have families too.”
Michael Weber from Collinsville has been coming to the memorial ceremony with his wife for the past four years.
“We’ve had several members of our chapter go down in the last few years, this is to remember them and to bless the bikes that are here today,” Weber said. “It’s also a great way to meet other members of other chapters and biker clubs.”
“Riding is freedom. It’s beautiful. I can’t imagine not having a motorcycle,” Weber said. “The scenic roads around here are a good beginning, but I like to travel.”
For those interested in placing a legacy brick in Roxana Community Park, Biker Memorial organizers have a simple criteria that was explained in a handout available at Sunday’s event:
“The only rule for having a brick is that the individual was truly a biker and no longer with us. It doesn’t matter if they lived a long beautiful life or was taken from us earlier than what we wanted to give them up.”