Ride in Peace: Florida Harley dealer Bob Fletcher

Publish Date: 
Jun 15, 2012

The dealership network lost a veteran this past week when longtime Harley-Davidson dealership owner Bob Fletcher died June 9. He was 90.

A memorial ride will start at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Fletcher's Harley-Davidson, 16485 U.S. 19 N. in Clearwater, Fla. The ride starts at noon from Fletcher's and ends at Anona United Methodist Church, 13233 Indian Rocks Road, Largo, for a 1 p.m. memorial service and 2 p.m. celebration of life.

Fletcher founded his namesake Harley-Davidson dealership in 1964 in Clearwater, Fla. But his love affair with motorcycles started when he was a teenager in Harvard, Ill. At 19 he bought a 1929 Harley JD for $50. In the army, he trained other servicemen to ride. Soon after coming home from the service, Fletcher and a partner opened Bob's Harley-Davidson in Illinois.

Fletcher competed in amateur motorcycle races, but a 200-mile event in Daytona Beach ended his racing career when another rider accidentally rear-ended him and his ankle was crushed. He moved to Clearwater, where he worked as a mechanic for Puckett's Harley-Davidson for nearly 10 years before launching his own store, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Fletcher retired in 1986 and turned the dealership over to his daughters, Laura Fletcher-Taylor, Peggy McFarland and Sherry Conder, who redecorated the store to make it friendlier than Harley’s then-rebellious image. The store eventually grew to 30,000 square feet and became a multi-winning Dealernews Top 100 dealership.

"It used to be, when people would say 'Harley-Davidson' they would think of biker gangs and the rough and tough," Fletcher-Taylor, who is now general manager, told the newspaper. "Now it's more of a privilege to own a Harley-Davidson because you own a piece of American history."

Posted by Holly Wagner

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