Billy Standley rode off in style on Friday when he was buried in a transparent Plexiglas coffin sitting astride his beloved Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The Ohio biker succumbed to lung cancer on Sunday but his coffin was constructed more than five years ago by his sons Pete and Roy and has been sitting in storage awaiting its time in the spotlight.
Standley, 82, had purchased three plots adjoining the plot used for his wife Lorna and that is what got the proverbial wheels in motion for his unique exit. He had told friends and family for years that he didn’t want to just “ride off to heaven” but that he wanted the world to see him do it “in a big see-through box”.
The sons constructed the casket with a reinforced base of wood and metal and then fitted the Plexiglas around the framework. Local embalmers prepared the body with straps and a rugged metal back brace.
“We’ve done personalization but nothing this extreme,” said Tammy Vernon who works at the funeral home in Mechanicsburg. “He was the one who kept throwing this idea out there to be buried on his bike and we were glad to assist him.”
Standley was outfitted in his leathers and sunglasses on his 1967 Elctra Glide. Even though the family acknowledged that the procession might be shocking to some along the route tot eh cemetery, they were committed to honoring his final wish.
“He'd done right by us all these years, and at least we could see he goes out the way he wanted to,” Pete Standley said. His daughter, Dorothy, added that he was 'a quirky man'.
Standley spent his younger years as a bareback rodeo rider and was escorted to his final resting place by a procession of bikers. Many mourners wore motorcycle jackets at his graveside as they witnessed him and his motorcycle be lowered into the super-size plot.