Motorcyle ride honors sixth generation William Cameron

From left: Mose, Cara Ulrich and Leslie Cameron.

MILTON — More than 110 motorcycles lined the street as far as the eye could see as riders traveled from the Susquehanna Motorcycle Club (SMC) in Milton to the Susquehanna Valley Big Twins (SVBT) Motorcycle Club in Woolrich on a ride to honor the passing of William N. Cameron.

A hearse, containing Cameron's ashes and riding jacket, was pulled by a motorcycle at the front of the procession, followed by Cameron's wife Leslie, daughters Cara Ulrich and Courtney Cameron, granddaughter Chloe Perrin and other family and friends. Behind them, a procession of motorcycle riders from SVBT, SMC, the Flying Aces Motorcycle Club, Chapter 19 of the Masonic Motorcycle Club and more joined Cameron on his final ride on April 30.

"There were just bikes forward and backward as far as you could see. It was the biggest ride I've ever been on," said Ulrich. She said she was moved by the overwhelming turnout. "So many people showed up to just take my dad on his last ride."

Born July 31, 1954, Cameron graduated from Milton High School in 1972 and worked at the former Chef Boyardee's until his retirement in 2018. Cameron, who passed away at the age of 67 on Feb. 5, 2022, after an 18-month battle with pancreatic cancer, was a lifelong biker, a member of SVBT and a former member and vice president of SMC.

"I pretty much grew up around the lifestyle, so my Dad always had a bike is what I can remember," said Ulrich, who is a member of SMC. 

After his retirement, Cameron purchased a brand new motorcycle for a cross-country trip with friends, making it all the way to Montana before turning around.

"They pretty much set foot in Montana and came back," Ulrich laughed. "I think they had rain almost the whole way back."

Cameron also attended the famed Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and raced bikes in Florida during the the 1990s.

Cameron's other passion besides motorcycles was attending his granddaughter Chloe's softball games.

"That was one of his highlights, to go to her games," Ulrich said.

"He was work and family first, but he played too," she said. "He wasn't the kind of person to let the rules stop him from having fun," she added, gesturing at a picture of him performing an indoor burnout on his bike at SVBT. 

"Our family tree goes back to Scotland," Ulrich said, displaying genealogical papers that traces the family lineage back through the original William Cameron, namesake of the William Cameron Engine Company in Lewisburg and a member of the prominent Cameron family, along with his brothers Simon and James.

Born in 1795, Cameron began his career when he volunteered as a private in the War of 1812. In 1827 he was appointed Justice of the Peace, a position he held until 1938 and the adoption of the constitution.

According to information provided by Ulrich, he then started a wholesale dry-goods business is Philadelphia before beginning work with his brother Simon Cameron on a canal system to help transport goods, including the cross-cut canal in Lewisburg, completed in 1833.

The canal, which connected the borough to the east side of the of the Susquehanna River, brought new industry and goods to Central Pennsylvania and carried exports south down the river, Ulrich said. Between 1830 and 1850, the population of Lewisburg nearly doubled from just over 900 to nearly 2,000.

Cameron also obtained charters for a railroad line which connected Lewisburg to Montandon in 1869, Ulrich said. By 1877 the line reached Centre County.

Cameron opened a savings bank in Lewisburg in 1853 and served as its president for 13 years. In 1874, he donated $10,000 to a struggling Lewisburg fire company for the purchase of the area's first steam fire engine. That company became the William Cameron Engine Company and still displays the horse-drawn engine at events like parades.

"It's a legacy that's forgotten in this area, I think, the Camerons," Ulrich said. 

Ulrich's father was the sixth consecutive generation of the family to have the name William Cameron.

In honor of Cameron, SVBT changed the name of its annual Poker Run for Cancer to Bill Cameron's Memorial Run for Cancer, which will take place on Saturday, May 14.

Staff writer Matt Stulberg can be reached at 570-742-9671 ext. 114 or email matts@standard-journal.com.

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