Accompanied by more than 100 of his closest friends, Chuck Simonin took the motorcycle ride of his life last Sunday.
In fact, the entire weekend was dedicated to, and in celebration of, Chuck, a well-known Penticton man who died of a heart attack in late June.
Saturday would have been his 65th birthday.
For the ride, Chuck’s ashes were carried in a specially-designed wooden urn with a symbolic First Nations eagle crest on the front – a culture he was very close to.
The urn was carried by his wife Michelle, who was a passenger on the bike driven by one of his best friends, Roy Colmer.
Chuck’s son and daughter, Luke and Dora, lead the cavalcade on their father’s motorcycle.
“I think he’d be more than thrilled with what’s happening here today because he loved doing this stuff and we’re all here in memory and support of him,” said his son as the choppers around him revved their engines amid the tears and laughter of the participants.
“I think what is happening here with everyone just kind of speaks for itself and I’m sure most people here would have a story or two about riding bikes with dad.
“I know he’d just be tickled with this.”
The large group left the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, where the day before over 600 people attended a memorial service, travelling the backroads to Oliver before returning home.
Like others who knew her father, Dora described him as, “larger than life. My dad was an incredibly giving individual, incredibly genuine.”
Growing up in a small Alberta town just east of Calgary where he was born, Chuck developed his passion for rodeo, in particular the three-man, wild horse race team.
It was a sport he continued to practice, even after moving to Naramata with his family in the early 1980s where he opened Wild Rose Stables.
One of his biggest claims to fame was winning a gold medal at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics where rodeo was a demonstration sport.
His children remember fondly the summers travelling with their dad on the rodeo circuit.
Luke even had an opportunity to join him in competition once at the Calgary Stampede.
“Dad taught me a lot of things directly and a lot of things indirectly,” recalled Luke about his childhood.
“He just sort of taught you to be your best and that if you put an honest effort into life you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of or to worry about.
“I think one of the most important things he taught me was just to have a positive outlook on life.”
Michelle also remembered her husband as someone who had the ability to bring out the best in others.
“You know what, he was just a man who was living life, was vulnerable and inspired people to achieve their greatness,” she said. “He had a sensitive, intimate relationship with everyone he met. He was five-star, cowboy guy with a huge heart and touched everyone’s heart in so many different ways.
“He will be missed by so many people.”
In addition to motorcycles and rodeo, Chuck was involved in Ironman for many years, minor baseball and worked as a teacher, running for school board in 2011.
Chuck was also remembered by Mary, his friend and ex-wife, stepdaughter Brigitte, brothers Hal and Tim