Jerry Mac Grimes was born a “ground hog” baby on February 2, 1946. Jerry grew up the second son of five children, in a farming family in Harnett County North Carolina. As a boy he and his brothers would often ride several miles on their bicycles to the nearby town theater to watch the latest movies. Without hesitation, this is where his love of two wheels began.
In 1972, Jerry purchased his first motorcycle. This motorcycle, a Kawasaki H2 Mach III 750, was often referred to as the Widow Maker because of its quick speeds that only experienced riders could manage. Jerry quickly garnered a reputation as a speed demon, never being out run at local drag strips or on back country roads. He left family and friends believing that Judy, his wife, would soon be the next widow; yet fortunately there were many more years to their “story.” Jerry had a natural instinct in the saddle of a motorcycle and drew from his bicycle riding experiences. He learned to respect the quick accelerations of motorcycles and developed a life-long love for riding, becoming more cautious with time…though often in his younger days he was a bit ruthless and luck was no doubt his wingman.
As the years passed, Jerry stuck to his “metric” motorcycle roots, and in his later years worked in motorcycle sales, helping others acquire the bike of their dreams. He was eager to share his experiences and safety advice with new or less experienced riders. Over the years, Jerry traded-up to other bikes, like the Honda Shadow, and eventually the Honda Valkyrie, which he still owned at the time of his passing. This 1999 beast was custom painted in Jerry’s favorite color of mustang yellow; and to this day is synonymous with Jerry’s name and face among many fellow riders in eastern NC. This motorcycle was equipped with many accessory upgrades and became Jerry’s most prized possession, as well as the one bike he owned the longest. Fifteen years and nearly 100K miles later (on his Valkyrie) provided further evidence of Jerry’s love of life behind the bars. Today, his daughter Tracy, also an avid rider, owns his bike and continues to live out Jerry’s legacy with her knees in the breeze. Tracy is co-founder and executive director of The June JAMR. Jerry’s son, Troy, also has a passion for riding motorcycles, and working closely with his sister, co-founded The June JAMR. Like his father, Troy recently began selling motorcycles as a second career. As for Jerry’s wife Judy…well, she continues to pray…never completely understanding the fever. She offers her support…and lots of prayers for safety, as she always did with her husband every time he rode out. It worked for Jerry on his motorcycles over the years…and so far it has for Jerry’s Kids, as well.
Early in 2013, Jerry announced that his days of selling would end later that summer. Several years prior, Jerry had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. He was tired and his steps were slowing…family noticed his gait had even become a bit shuffled. In June, Jerry officially retired from the motorcycle business. With more free time he planned to enjoy longer riding trips during his retirement. In the late summer, Jerry took a short ride and returned home reporting to Judy that he just couldn’t go any further - he was no longer confident in the saddle.
A few weeks passed and other health related issues began to surface. Then an acute illness with symptoms similar to that of a stroke appeared on October 18th. The family immediately rushed Jerry to a local educational hospital, for what would become almost a year-long plight of trying to make Jerry well again. Initially it was believed that he had indeed suffered a stroke…then a working diagnosis of meningitis. When Jerry’s condition failed to improve, medical professionals admitted they just did not know the exact cause of his mysterious illness. The family requested further opinions from other experts. A 2nd educational hospital was given a shot. Multiple MRIs, MRA’s, CT Scans, spinal taps, and labs were ordered – even a brain biopsy, without a firm diagnosis. Infectious disease experts and world renowned clinics were consulted. Continual hospitalization and in-patient rehabilitation ensued and stays away from home for Jerry and his family became the norm in a quest to try and save his life. After six months of medical care with no concrete answers, Jerry’s original neurologist and his team resumed care for Jerry and a working diagnosis of neuro sarcoidosis was designated. Speculation was then made that the prior diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis over the past several years could actually have been inflammation caused by sarcoidosis, all along. Treatments with high doses of steroids were initiated with some minor improvements initially; yet later proving to be a false hope of long-term recovery. In the end, the disease had progressed too far, and Jerry’s body could no longer withstand the toxic ramifications of the treatments. From riding his Valkyrie one September to the next, Jerry was gone, and his battle ended September 26, 2014.
In the wake of it all, Jerry’s family was stunned. Sarcoidosis? What was this horrible disease that had taken Jerry’s life at a relatively young age of 68? They wanted more knowledge, and more so, they wanted others to know Jerry’s story…in hopes of educating other families, furthering research, and fostering breakthroughs; preventing others from suffering or succumbing to this dreadful disease.
During his illness, Tracy and Troy, along with Jerry’s family, friends, and former co-workers, conducted a motorcycle benefit ride for Jerry, to raise money to assist with expenses. The outpouring of respect and love shown for Jerry by fellow riders, former customers, Jerry and Judy’s local church, and the community was astounding. With Judy driving and Jerry as her passenger in his friend’s Ford Mustang convertible that day, Jerry was humbled by the honor of riding one last time as the “leader” of a group of his fellow riders. After Jerry’s passing, and with encouragement of his closest riding friends and former co-workers, Tracy and Troy decided a similar charitable event would be held each year in Jerry’s memory to spread awareness about sarcoidosis disease. And thus, The June JAMR (Jerry’s Annual Memorial Ride) was born.