A member profile by LoDown, Historian, BFMC 6
As this remembrance of JW – as so many folks referred to James Wayne Petersen – is written in the spring of 2012, Wizard (his road name as a member of the Boozefighters MC) has been on his long and final ride for over two years. Jim is gone, as they say, but far from forgotten.
The fact is that Wizard had a marked and profound effect on almost everyone he met along what he called life’s journey. That impact continues today. As Spiritman/Chaplin for BFMC 6, he always had an open ear and an even more open and non-judgmental mind to counsel those with serious troubles or to listen quietly for those folks who just needed to talk.
In virtually every instance, those who came to him with a heavy load left with that burden lightened considerably. Not that he just sat around shooting the breeze all day; Wizard liked nothing more than to hop on his motorcycle and hit the roads. Those jaunts could be around town or across the country. The man loved to ride and he proudly wore his Road Captain badge on his cut. So on or off his bike, he more than lived up to the way he once told an interviewer he wanted to be remembered. Which is to say, “He was a good brother.”
The “how and the why” whereby Jim came to be that good brother, loving husband, dutiful son, and friend to so many over his 66 years on the planet can be found, perhaps, in the outline of his life. A native Californian, he was born while WWII was still a daily reality. His family was in the restaurant business and in the early 1960’s a teenaged Jim helped out.
Despite his record as a dutiful son, his folks would not let him ride even a motorized scooter. That was remedied when Jim entered college. Studying first Theology and Philosophy and later Theater and Film, JW got to class on his Triumph, the first of what would be some nine motorcycles over a lifetime of love for hitting the road on two wheels.
Eventually a combination of employment experience in the automotive industry and his interest in motorcycles took him to a Northern California Harley-Davidson dealership and a job in the service department. It was an event that would change his life. It was here that he met various members of the Boozefighters MC, including Leadfoot, Cowboy, others, and myself.
Leadfoot led the way in bringing Jim to Chapter 6 as a hang around in 2003. Cowboy and I were set to start another chapter of the club to be designated El Dorado/Sacramento Chapter 21 and Jim became a prospect there and I was his sponsor. To say that we shared some great times, with trips to Hollister, the BFMC Spring Nationals, and other places is vast understatement. In fact, we had one hellva a time! When Jim patched out, he was given his “Wizard” road name, based not only on his looks – a long white beard and flowing white hair – but also because of his intelligence (the product of his love of reading) and his sound character.
I think it’s safe to say that, after a lifetime of searching, the Boozefighters MC provided Jim with the fellowship and belonging he had always sought. It helped too that he had met (and would eventually marry) Kelli Walters, a beautiful woman who shared his love of riding and adventure. (Jim eventually transferred back to Chapter 6, with Chapter 21 spliting into a Sacramento group with that designation and the present El Dorado Chapter 121).
But as sometimes happens, just as things looked rosy ahead, JW was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer in fall 2004. From there on Jim fought with all his strength to shake the cancer, undergoing painful treatments that put his illness in remission before it returned to take his life some six years later.
During those intervening years Wizard remained a steadfast patch holder in the club, participating in club events and continuing to ride as much as possible. All the while he gave of himself to his family, brothers, and others. As Kelli recalls, the January 2010 Chapter 6 New Year’s ride provided a last opportunity for bikes to come by the house and for Jim to meet with his friends one last time. Throughout the day, she says, Wizard “maintained his sense of humor and courage.”
Wizard was gone a few days later and some 450 people – club brothers from across the country, family members, and friends -- attended his memorial in Nevada City on a cold and rainy day. A small vile of ashes went to any brother who requested it and Jim rides on today, a welcome companion on many roads and for many years to come.
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