J.R. Kelley, founder of KK Motorcycle Supply, passes away at age 86

J.R. Kelley, founder of KK Motorcycle Supply in Dayton, Ohio, passed away on Saturday, Dec. 8, at the age of 86. Kelley founded KK Motorcycle Supply in 1959, after working for 13 years at his father’s Triumph, Indian and BSA dealership in Dayton. Read a January interview with Kelley here.

Here’s a news release from the company





86 years old

December 8th, 2012


Why did they love, envy, admire, fear, and respect him?

Not everyone felt the same way about him.  Many came to love him because he touched their lives with boundless gestures of support and caring.

Many envied him because of his accomplishments and prosperity.


Others admired him because of these accomplishments and because so many people loved him.

There are those who feared him because he did not condescend to the big and powerful, but rallied the little people to accomplishment and success.

Most respected him because of the person he became due to his honesty and high work ethics; to him working hard and smart were and are the only way to be.

He believed in giving.  Not only in providing the best customer service but he also worked on ways to give even better service.  He believed in the win-win relationship with his customers, working with them to provide satisfaction for everyone involved.

He believed not in just selling products, but in becoming a partner with his customers to improve both his and their companies.  He believed in supporting the motorcycle industry to make a difference in the quality of life in communities.

He grew up tough.  Busting knuckles by wrenching the motorcycles his father sold, wrestling cattle, cow punching, and banging handlebars with greats like Bobby Hill, Bill Tuman and Dick Klanfoth.  He proved his love for his country by ducking enemy fire and defending Old Glory at Iwo Jima while serving as US Marine.

He weathered stormy seasons as President of the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) and helped the AMA improve its service, increase its membership and become an important legislative body.

His work with dealer associations and the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) helped organize efforts to make the industry stronger, more professional and financially more viable.

He was the first recipient of the MIC’s “Man of the Year” award in 1986 which called him a leader in the motorcycle business; a man who dedicated his life to the advancement of the motorcycle industry in the United States.

More recognition of his dedication to the industry included: The Dudley Perkins Award by the AMA, Cycle News Award, Motorcyclists Magazine’s “All-Star Award” at Daytona, the Ohio Hall of Fame, the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, and one of Dayton’s Top 10 Citizen’s awarded by WKEF-TV.

It was JR Kelley’s belief that you have to give something back to your community which inspired the Old Time Newsies (OTN) Charity Motorcycle Race; OTN Charity Auction on WKEF and the Ride for Muscle Dystrophy.  Throughout the years over 35 Million dollars were raised for Charity.

He has, indeed, been instrumental in helping the public and media to refocus on motorcycling.  This refocus gained a positive image for the men and women in the sport and industry.

JR you will be truly missed, but you will never be forgotten by the motorcycle industry and the thousands of people whose lives you have touched.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made in the memory of JR Kelley to the:

American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation

13515 Yarmouth Dr

Pickerington  OH  43147


The American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation is a 501C3 charity

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