August 28, 2014

Elyria
Mostly clear
57°F
test

Local Harley dealer George Stevens dies at age 68

AVON — His customers called George Stevens an honest businessman, and he took great pride in owning Elyria Harley-Davidson and Lake Erie Harley-Davidson.

George Stevens

Stevens, 68, died of a heart attack Sunday, according to his son, Mike Stevens, president of Lake Erie Harley-Davidson Sales Co.

He said the family was touched by the dozens of Facebook messages in which people remembered George Stevens’ honesty, kindness and dedication to the business.

“They don’t make them like him anymore,” Mike Stevens said.

He said his father had been fighting lung cancer and was recently told he had beaten it after receiving various treatments including radiation therapy.

“The doctors believed they had eradicated the disease,” Mike Stevens said.

A motorcycle rider for more than 50 years, George Stevens had given up riding a traditional motorcycle because both knees were bad, his son said.

“He just got a knee replacement and was planning on getting a trike (three-wheeler) next summer,” Mike Stevens said.

Besides his son, Stevens is survived by his wife, Barb, who worked at the dealership at one time along with his daughter, Lori Stevens. He had five grandchildren.

“He loved working with his family,” Mike Stevens said.

George Stevens ran the business, following in the footsteps of his uncle, Floyd “Wig” Weigel, who began the business in 1939.

Former employee Kathy Flynn was among those grieving George Stevens.

“Walking into Elyria Harley-Davidson was like walking into home,” Flynn said. “He was a very good businessman, and he was very honest.”

She remembers the encouragement George Stevens gave her when she first expressed interest in raising money to fight cancer and other diseases through poker runs.

In addition to telling her to keep an accurate ledger, he told her, “Do it with your heart,” Flynn said.

“He was like my dad,” Flynn said.

Over a six-year period, they raised some $200,000 for cancer research, she said.

She remembers her excitement at getting a $150 check from Smink Electric as the first donation for the first benefit.

“I came back and told George because I was so excited,” Flynn said.

Flynn said that she, too, battled cancer in 2004 and Stevens gave her plenty of support.

“I told George before I told anybody,” Flynn said.

George Stevens enjoyed people and always had something interesting to talk about, said Ed “Big Ed” Roberts of Big Ed’s Tattooing in Elyria.

The two were buddies even though George Stevens bucked the trend and never got a tattoo.

“We were friends,” Roberts said. “Every time I stopped we’d talk.”

The dealership on Cleveland Street in Elyria was consolidated with the dealership in Avon several years ago.

George Stevens, of Westlake, enjoyed stopping in to chat — and be with other motorcycle enthusiasts — even after he retired, his son said.

“As recently as Saturday, he was in the dealership talking to people,” Mike Stevens said of his dad. “He touched many lives.”

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.