Footwear VP Hobie Burgnon killed returning from Blessing of the Bikes
ADA, MI — One of Herbert Rammond “Hobie” Burgnon Jr’s lifelong passions was motorcycles. He rode them nearly all his life, first gaining familiarity racing dirt bikes as a kid.
A photo taken a few years ago of Hobie Burgnon shows him cruising on his Harley, flashing a peace sign and a smile.
It was tweeted out by Ricky Kelley, a friend and Nashville Harley Davidson dealer, after he learned Hobie Burgnon, 59, died on Monday, May 20, a day after he was critically injured in a crash while returning from the annual Blessing of the Bikes in Baldwin. The annual gathering of motorcyclist enthusiasts features a priest who blesses their bikes for the season.
The Ada resident was 40 miles from arriving home when his motorcycle hit the back of a car stopped to turn off M-82 in Croton Township, according to police investigators. Police said Burgnon was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, and alcohol was a factor in the accident although they haven’t released his blood alcohol level.
“It’s hard,” said Michael Hebreard, Burgnon’s former boss. “We are honestly in shock. He has many friends here and in the industry.”
Burgnon’s non-judgmental nature and honesty garnered him many friends the country, said Kelley, who first met Burgnon 16 years when he lived in Nashville, and was a sales rep for Harley Davidson Footwear before he was promoted to an executive position.
“It’s a shame you have to die to know how many friends you have,” said Kelley, who communicated with many of those friends through social media this week.
Burgnon’s job let him celebrate his love for Harleys as the vice president of sales for Harley Davidson Footwear, a brand of Wolverine Worldwide.
He worked for the Rockford footwear giant for more than 15 years, joining shortly after Wolverine signed a licensing deal with the iconic motorcycle company.
The job was perfect fit Burgnon because of his deep knowledge of footwear and motorcycles, said Hebreard, former general manager of Harley Davidson Footwear who now heads Wolverine’s Cushe brand.
Burgnon, who ran the brand’s U.S. sales force, often came up with product development ideas.
Harley Davidson Footwear, which has about about 30 employees around the world, is part of Wolverine’s heritage division that includes brands Wolverine, CAT Footwear, Sebago, Hytest and Bates.
Beyond his role at Wolverine, Burgnon was deeply involved with the Two-Ten Footwear Foundation which supports workers in the footwear industry.
His lifetime membership predated joining Wolverine, which is also a major supporter of the national organization.
“His passions were his family, friends, music and motorcycles,” wrote Burgnon’s family in his obituary.
Burgnon is survived by his wife, Beverly, son Beau Burgnon (Amanda), son Alex Burgnon (Jen), granddaughter Brynlee, and many other relatives and friends.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 28, at Metcalf Jonkhoff, at 4291 Cascade Road SE.
The family requests memorial donations be made to The March of Dimes or The Two-Ten Foundation.