Motorcycle motorcade fitting

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor


The Last Ride Motorcycle Hearse, carrying the body of Mike Ginn, is drawn by a three-wheel motorcycle ridden by Ty Conklin north of Moran Saturday.
American Legion Riders held flags outside the Moran Christian Church Saturday morning in honor of Mike Ginn, a 20-year Air Force and Vietnam veteran.
Ty Conklin

Mike Ginn, a 20-year Air Force veteran, was carried to Fairview Cemetery near Mildred for burial Saturday just as he would have wanted, in a hearse towed by a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and attended by a long procession of American Legion Riders.
Ginn, 60, died July 30.
The hearse was provided by Ty Conklin’s Last Ride Motorcycle Hearse Co. of Springfield, Mo.
“It’s an honor to be asked to help out at the funerals of motorcycle riders,” Conklin said before the 10:30 a.m. service at Moran’s Christian Church. “A lot of families tell me that it makes a bad day a lot better.”
Ginn, a Vietnam veteran, rode motorcycles, as did many of his friends from throughout southeast Kansas who came to honor him. Prior to services they lined the sidewalks on two sides of the church and held U.S. flags to recognize his military service.
The thought of building the hearse to provide something special for bikers’ services came to Conklin after he participated with other motorcycle riders in a service at Springfield.
“The fellow was a friend of mine, and had said before he died of cancer that he didn’t want to be put in a station wagon for the trip to the cemetery.
“Some of us stopped at a bar afterward and got to talking and thought there should be a better way for a biker to go out,” he said. “We drew a design for the motorcycle hearse on a bar napkin that day.”
Construction of the hearse took four months and in the past 14 months Conklin has taken it to 30 services in the four-state area.
“It’s become a full-blown business,” he said, and there is a charge. “I never dreamed it would get as big as it has in such a short time.”
Most people appreciate the two-wheeled motorcycle-drawn hearse at funerals. “They either get it or they don’t,” Conklin said.
A feature of such funerals is also a large number of motorcycle riders, associated with an American Legion post, as well as some who aren’t.
“The American Legion Riders and the Patriot Guard — in attendance at services for a military person killed in action — are great,” Conklin said. “They are so respectful of the family and do so much to make services more meaningful.”
Conklin, 50, has ridden motorcycles since he was 4. “It’s my drug of choice,” he said. “Bikers usually are odd ducks, but they are the best people on the planet.”