One last ride

One last ride: Hundreds of bikers pay respects to Lakelands Warlocks president

Hundreds of leather-clad bikers sat atop their motorcycles, engines revving loudly, with their middle fingers to the sky in a show of respect to a man who often lifted the same digit to his many friends — John Ruley Jr.’s funeral procession was as boisterous and head-turning as his laugh was.
On Wednesday, Harley Funeral Home was surrounded by motorcycles. Hundreds of bikers from throughout the state and some from as far as West Virginia came in their colors to pay their respects to Ruley. He served as president of the Warlocks Motorcycle Club Lakelands chapter, and died in a wreck Saturday night alongside the club’s vice president, Tommy Burdette.

Hundreds of bikers attended the May 9, 2018 funeral of Lakelands Warlocks Motorcycle Club President John Ruley, who died five days earlier.

Warlocks, Hells Angels, Black Cats, Band of Brothers, Knights of the Inferno — dozens of biker club patches and decals showed the variety of people who came to honor Ruley’s life. The funeral home’s chapel was packed full, with some mourners watching the service on televisions in other rooms of the home.

With how many friends Ruley made in his life, the crowd wasn’t a surprise to attendees. His famous words of conciliation echoed throughout the crowd in conversations: “It bees like that sometimes.”
“I saw John for the last time Friday night,” said the Rev. Jay Pruitt during the service. “The last thing I told him was I would see him down the road.”

It’s a promise he could keep Wednesday, as hundreds of bikers saddled up and led the procession, guiding Ruley to his plot in Elmwood Cemetery in Ninety Six.

The night of Ruley’s wreck, the Rev. Dennis Reynolds was out and noticed he had several missed calls from his wife. When he gave her a call, she told him about the wreck — minutes later his phone was buzzing nonstop with alerts from others asking about Ruley.
“I could probably have 14-15 pages of John Ruley stories, but I don’t want to do that,” Reynolds said. “But I do want to share a couple.”

He told the service attendees about a wreck his wife was in years back. She had been taking their child home when a texting driver hit her, he said. The wreck happened right in front of Ruley’s house, and he called Reynolds to tell him he was taking care of his wife, making sure she was alright.

Ruley was generous with his time, friendship and possessions. Reynolds said he still has tools in his garage Ruley gave him, and that he works on his own bikes with those donated tools. Besides being a great friend, Ruley was a role model and an incredible dad to his children, Reynolds said.
“He said one day I’m not going to be here, but I want you to be successful,” Reynolds said. “He gave them the tools to be successful.”

Reynolds shared a message on Ruley’s family’s behalf — they said they can see him standing in Heaven today, confronted by Saint Peter at the pearly gates. As Peter tallies up Ruley’s deeds and transgressions, they can hear him starting to say “What had happened was...”