Edmonton In Memory

In Memoriam – Edmonton

The Edmonton Ride for Dad committee, past and present, grieve the passing of one of our Chapter Founding Members and friend, John McNeilly. We knew him as a character who always had a smile on his face, could make us laugh with his stories, and his custom Harley, aka “Ugly One”, stood out in a crowd. He sat on the committee and rode our ride for over 10 years since 2007. He also helped start RFD chapters across Western Canada.
With heavy hearts, we pass condolences to his family. He will be truly missed in our world.
Ride Free John

The following was submitted by Garry Crawford; MRFD – Edmonton Founding Member, Edmonton Police Service (retired)

John McNeilly was a founding member of the Edmonton Motorcycle Ride for Dad (“MRFD”) and served as the Co-chair for the first 4 years, and continued as a Director until his death.  He was awarded the Kiwanis Top Cop award in 2009 for his work with and for MRFD.

John served 2 years as the Western Canadian Manager overseeing all rides in Western Canada and was instrumental in starting rides in Didsbury, Vancouver Island, Yellowknife, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg.

John’s quiet style of leadership was respected by all and his sometimes dark, but well-timed humor was sure to set the tone and mood of a meeting.  He never spoke before thinking about his response, and his guidance was sound.  He was involved in not just MRFD, but HOG, Blue Knights, Masons, to name just a few as well as serving 35 years with the Edmonton Police Service.

John started with the Edmonton Police Service in 1977, was promoted to the Drug Unit in 1988, and spent the remainder of his career in plainclothes with the exception of an 18 month period when he was in the Sergeant’s position.  In 1992, John left the Drug Unit to work in a variety of other investigation units. John received a “Police Exemplary Service” medal in February 1998, and a “First Bar” in 2008.  John retired from the Edmonton Police Service on January 25, 2013.

John passed away on March 24, 2020, after a hard battle with lung cancer that spread throughout his body; he was 64 years old.  John will be dearly missed by his family, many friends, coworkers, and associates.

Ken Dutchak – August 6, 1952 – January 2, 2012


The following was submitted by Siegfried (Ziggy) Bahde, 2012 Site Coordinator for the Edmonton Chapter of the MRFD, on behalf of the rest of the MRFD organizing committee.


Ken combined his love of motor cycle riding with his passion for organizing charitable causes by volunteering as a Site-Coordinator for the annual Edmonton Chapter of the Motorcycle Ride For Dad (RFD) bike rally in 2010. This charitable organization was set up to raise awareness of prostate cancer in men and fund research for better early detection methods of this cancer.


In an ironic twist of fate undiagnosed prostate cancer is the disease that took Ken’s life at age 59 early in 2012. Ken is survived by his wife Ilene two sons, Christopher and Ryan and two daughters Heather and Katherine. Christopher is carrying on in his capacity as a graphic artist to support the 2012 Edmonton Motorcycle Ride For Dad.


Ken’s attention to detail and ability to organize will be missed by the organizing committee of the Edmonton Motorcycle Ride For Dad. To die completely, a person must not only have passed on, but be forgotten, and Ken will never be forgotten by those of us on the organizing committee whose lives he touched.


I mourn the loss of a close friend that I have known for many years. Ken was one of those people that came into my life that I immediately knew was meant to be there. I must soldier on without Ken to do as he would say “do this, that and the other thing”.


Robert Douglas (Bob) Chalmers – November 1948 to July 2009 – Edmonton, AB

The following article was submitted by Eva Chalmers, Bob’s wife.


Bob Chalmers had several hobbies/passions, one of which was motorcycling.  Bob was one of the first members of the “Red Knights Chapter Alberta 1”, a motorcycle club whose members are mostly fire fighters.  With his fellow club members, Bob travelled a lot on his motorcycle; he attended several Red Knights conventions (e.g. Warwick, RI; NewYork, NY; Boston, MA, Winnipeg, MB; Montreal, QC, etc.).  Bob was quite proud to state he had been to every province in Canada and most of the United States on his bike (1982, 1999 and then his 2008 Honda Gold Wing – the only way to travel)!


In 2007, Bob was one of the founding members of Edmonton’s Motorcycle Ride for Dad Executive, and, in 2007 and 2008, carried out his duties on the Sponsorship Committee with dedication and enthusiasm. As a member of the MRFD, Bob was able to combine two passions…motorcycling and helping others.  Don Brandon and Bob would seek sponsors for Prostate Cancer in Edmonton and they made a good team!  In 2008, Bob was instrumental in getting the “Alberta Rural Ride for Dad” started with his brother-in-law, Tony Overwater, of Didsbury, AB. That Ride continues to grow and be very successful!  Bob was a proud member of the Edmonton Fire Department for 35 years (October 1973 to December 2008).  In June 2003, Bob was diagnosed with leukemia, one of the prescribed cancers for the purposes of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act for firefighters.  He was doing fairly well until 2009, but on July 6th, Bob lost his fight with leukemia.


Ron Durand

The following was written by Liz Chevrier, Ron’s common-law wife. We lost Ron as a result of a motorcycle/wildlife accident on September 7, 2008. Thanks Liz, for your support of the Edmonton Motorcycle Ride For Dad in Ron’s memory.


Ron worked and enjoyed a very simple yet quite eventful life. Before we met in July 2006, he was a bachelor for about eight years who lived in a west-end apartment. He worked for a living driving truck for many years as he held a Class 1 driving permit, and when his day was done, he would head over to Brado’s Pizza and have dinner and a beer or two with acquaintances that later became good friends. The first time he took me there, it reminded me so much of the sitcom, “Cheers”. Those friends became his family.

I’ve known Ron for the past three years as his girlfriend and he was proud to introduce me as his common-law wife, and I was proud, too. He was a very particular individual very protective over me when I was approached by any of his friends. It took a matter of a year until he felt comfortable with me and knew inside that I really only wanted him and that I wouldn’t go astray. His dad had told me recently that there was one trip he took to drive truck to Saskatchewan, and pushed the pedal to the metal to get back home in the same night so not to leave me alone. He told me he never wanted to work away from the city again now that I was part of his life.


His dreams and goals became easier to grasp when we came together in my home. He had a very keen interest in wireless satellite. He continued to research and learn about new products and information from the internet, and became very resourceful sharing his knowledge with friends and acquaintances. Then one day, he decided to take the satellite courses and started his own business. He named it Satellite Innovations Inc. Ron contacted various computer stores in and around Edmonton, and began contracting his work between them and their customers. He would drive out to acreages and spend hours getting a signal from the nearest signal tower, install their satellite disk, and he felt content at the end of the day when he had another satisfied customer.


Ron stood his ground. He was a firm believer of being treated fairly and voiced his opinion. When he couldn’t convince or see eye-to-eye with a business partner or other, he walked away. Not long after, the person then called Ron up and both came to an understanding on most occasions. We handled our matters in the same fashion, and they always became resolved even when we took time out and discussed it the next day.


Ron had a love for animals. Angie was a female afghan hound which he had all of her life. He cared for her everyday until the day he had to put her down when she aged and got sick. He had her cremated and kept her urn in his apartment with her picture. Pictures of her in a single-frame remained in our garage. After time, he then took a great liking to “Scruffy”, a terrier and poodle cross that was left in my care from my son, and Scruffy took to Ron like his own. The excitement was overwhelming for Scruffy when he would be waiting and standing on hind legs at the top of the stairs when Ron came through the door after work each day.


Before I came into his life, his favourite pastime was his gold and black 2005 Harley Davidson Ultra Glide motorbike. He had told me that I was number two, even though I understood that I was his other love in his life. He had many friends that rode motorbikes and someone would either be calling him, or he’d be calling them. He attended many motorbike events including the annual Edmonton Blues Festival of which he was a great fan of blues music (Janeva Magness, a favourite), motorbike shows local and short distances away, as well as many poker runs and charity events such as the Santa’s Anonymous Motorcycle Toy Run and most recently, the Motorcycle Ride for Dad (prostate cancer). We decided after this past Father’s Day “Ride for Dad”, that we were going to participate annually.


The last warm and sunny day I spent with Ron on Sunday, September 7th will be a very memorable one. I was deciding to put on a dinner or a barbeque with my two sons and his son, and all that was on Ron’s mind was going for a motorbike ride. He had told me “that if you’re going to be cooking, I’m going to be riding” so off he went to the room to get his leather gear on and I waited in the kitchen to see how things were going to unfold. For the first time, he stopped at the entrance, turned back, and said, “You coming?” Well, that got my heart racing and I walked over to him, put my arms around his neck, and said “Of course, I want to be with you” and I kissed his cheek.


For those of you that didn’t get a chance to know Ron, I hope that I have given you a good picture of the man he was.


Wade C. McWhirter


Wade was a prostate cancer survivor and a big supporter of the Motorcycle Ride for Dad. Wade rode with us in 2007, raising hundreds of dollars in pledges. He was looking forward to riding with us again in 2008 when he was tragically taken away from us in July 2007, while motorcycling in British Columbia.


Wade is survived by his wife Barb and his three sons Ryan, Mark, and Kyle. Nicole McWhirter, Mark’s wife, is carrying the torch onward for Wade by dedicating her 2008 ride and fundraising efforts to Wade’s memory.


We of the Edmonton Motorcycle Ride for Dad are very grateful to the McWhirter family for their gift towards the cause from Wade’s Memorial, and for their ongoing support.