BUNKER HILL, W.Va. — To family and friends, Merle Richard Vaughn Jr. was a man with a huge heart who loved life on two wheels.
“He was a loving, caring guy with a huge heart for anybody,” his son Merle Richard Vaughn III said. “He did a lot of charity (motorcycle) rides.”
Merle Richard Vaughn Jr., 56, of Maugansville, died Sunday after he was thrown from his motorcycle on U.S. 11 in Bunker Hill, W.Va., West Virginia State Police said.
News of his death was a shock, said Diane Harshman, a teammate on the Saturday Night Mixed League duckpin bowling league at Dual Lanes. The elder Merle was president of the league and many members of his family also bowled on the team, she said.
“We were hoping they got it wrong,” she said of the news. “It was such a shock.”
Characterizing the league as a family, she said he will be “so missed” by everyone.
As much as he loved bowling, football and NASCAR, riding his motorcycle, whether for pleasure or to benefit others, was one of his father’s favorite things to do, Vaughn III said.
“He was always on his motorcycle,” he said, adding that his father rode a 2005 Harley-Davidson Softail Deuce.
The elder Merle participated in many charity motorcycle rides, his son said. A veteran of the Marine Corps, his father rode for veterans, he said.
Among other causes, his father also rode for children with diabetes; in honor of Christopher Shane Nicholson, the Smithsburg police officer who was killed in the line of duty; and for cancer, he said.
Harshman said the bowling league hopes to donate to one of his favorite charities in his honor.
“He was a bright spot,” she said. “He was upbeat. He could always laugh. Even when he was having a bad night, he could laugh.”
If you were in the presence of Merle Richard Vaughn Jr., you knew it, his son said.
“No matter where he was, you knew it,” he said. “He had a presence.”
His father enjoyed his job at Craig Paving — where he worked for more than 25 years — but he loved spending time with his family, especially his nine grandchildren, his son said. He had a 10th grandchild on the way, he said.
“He’ll be missed by a lot of people,” he said.