Forever Warthogs! trumpeted a man wearing a half-shell helmet, sunglasses and leather Friday morning outside DL Calarco Funeral Home on Keyes Avenue in Watertown.
Warthogs Forever! shouted back a cluster of more than 200 motorcycle club members who traveled here from across the country for a funeral procession paying homage to Adams resident Edward B. Crusher Blackford IV. The 47-year-old died July 18 due to injuries from an all-terrain-vehicle rollover in northeast Ohio, where he had traveled to attend a weekend motorcycle event in Cleveland with his wife, Janet A. He was a corrections officer at Watertown Correctional Facility for 24 years.
Members of the Warthogs Motorcycle Club, which has chapters in 10 states, all have experience serving public agencies as police and corrections officers and firefighters. They traveled here from Florida, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland and Canada to participate in the procession, riding their motorcycles from the city to attend the funeral service at Adams Methodist Church. Most of them attended the Warthogs recent motorcycle rendezvous in Cleveland, and they extended their vacations to travel to the north country after learning of Mr. Blackfords death.
These members, who wore leather jackets with matching club insignia, exchanged memories of Mr. Blackford on Friday morning before revving up their motorcycles for the ride. Several members first met the man they fondly knew as Crusher after he joined the Warthogs Jefferson County chapter in 2006. He was nicknamed Crusher after the huge wrestler featured in Bugs Bunny cartoons, and he sported a large tattoo of that Looney Tunes character on his upper arm. Affectionately dubbed the Crusher glide, his black-and-blue Harley Davidson street glide motorcycle features a large decal of the Crusher cartoon.
Crusher was beyond reality, like a prodigal son, said 67-year-old Ohioan John Lawson. We joked that he tended to crush everything, but he was just like a playful character. He was a good friend to everyone in the club, like an ambassador.
Club member James M. Guppy Fisher, who recently moved from Copenhagen to Florida, worked alongside Mr. Blackford as a state corrections officer in Watertown for six years. He said Mr. Blackford never missed summer club events across the country, especially funeral processions for deceased members. His obituary is now posted on the Warthogs website, www.wart hogsmc.com/Memorial/ index.html, with 11 other members who have died since 2003.
No one liked these processions more than Crusher, said Mr. Fisher, who enjoyed hunting and watching football with Mr. Blackford. He was a big Miami Dolphins fan.
Adams resident Robert R. Towles, president of the Jefferson County Warthogs Club, knew Mr. Blackford for more than 30 years. They graduated from South Jefferson High School together and worked together for 23 years. Some people in the Adams community remember Mr. Blackford as a football coach at South Jefferson Central School District. He coached his two sons, Edward and Patrick, all the way from the pee-wee to high school varsity level.
Mr. Towles, 48, launched the Warthogs Jefferson County chapter in 2001, and he persuaded Mr. Blackford to join in 2006. The chapter now has 18 members.
He would have been amazed by the turnout today and so proud of his Warthog brothers, Mr. Towles said. This is a brotherhood, and we do this for every member who passes away. We have parties for the good times, but were also here for each other in the bad times.