Ronald “Frenchman” Elwood Fellman, 79, passed away from heart disease March 26, 2014, at Mat-Su Regional Hospital in Palmer.
A Celebration of Life potluck is at 3 p.m., May 3 at Boot Hill (Auto Salvage) in the Butte. For more information, call 745-1027. Family and friends will meet this fall to spread Ron’s ashes at his favorite place the Vermillion Cliffs along the Utah/Arizona border.
He was born Sept. 7, 1934, in Milford, Neb. Ron developed wanderlust as a boy, once riding a passenger train more than 200 miles before being discovered at age 8. As a young man, he hitchhiked around the country, joined a carnival and rode an Indian Scout on “The Wall of Death.” His hitch in the Navy was cut short when he was arrested “running moonshine” and unable to return to base.
“Frenchman” came to Alaska with his future wife for “the summer” from Tucson in 1980, and stayed. In 1984, they bought the graveyard caretakers property near the Butte and opened Boot Hill (Antique and Classic) Auto Salvage, where he lived and worked fabricating car-powered trikes and dealing in restorable classic American vehicles and parts until his death.
Ron drove semi-trucks intermittently throughout his life, including Alaska. He became skilled in the chrome plating and metal polishing field in Florida in the ’60s, and worked in electroplating in Albuquerque (there he gold-plated equipment that remains on the moon), Lubbock, Tucson and finally in Anchorage for four years in the early 1980’s. He owned TrikeMasters, building trikes in Tucson in the 1970s. Ron worked on the Valdez oil spill with the 302 as a certified welder. He retired as a state school bus inspector 1996, a job that included flying all over Alaska. Frenchman was state director and lifetime member for the international triker association “Brothers of the Third Wheel” since the early ’90s.
Family and friends will remember “The Frenchman” as a true old-school biker. In the ’60s, he was national president of the Florida-based original Iron Cross MC, a 1-percenter biker club with more than 400 members. He had extensive knowledge of Harleys and all old motorcycles, cars and trucks from the ’60s on back. Frenchman was an original and had to customize his rides to suit himself. He never owned a motorcycle newer than a panhead, his last one he plated with 223 pieces of 23-carrat gold (some that didn’t make it to the moon).
Ron is survived by the love of his life for 37 years, wife Rhonda “Charlie” Fellman; his daughter and son-in-law and good friend Veronica and Graham Pearson, and grandson Wayne, all of Anchorage; his daughter, Julita, son, Randy, and their spouses and children in Texas; also his “favorite mother-in-law,” Katy Brandon and her daughters and son, Daniel Franklin and their families, all of Texas. He will also be missed by many good friends in Alaska and across the country, especially his “adopted son,” good friend and neighbor, Vance Barnum.
Cremation was entrusted to Kehl’s Palmer Mortuary. A memorial is online at legacy.com.