Clyde “Clyde the Glide” Fessler, Jr. glided peacefully into heaven on Sept. 13, 2021. He took with him his quick wit, exuberance for life, and adventurous spirit. He left behind for all of us memories extraordinaire on which to draw in moments of loneliness as well as when we need a laugh and a smile. Clyde rose each morning excited about a new day, and rather than viewing life as a glass half full, his tumbler brimmed over with excitement and positive energy for what each new day would bring.
Whether he was dressing casually, formally, or to ride any one of his many Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Clyde donned a pair of his signature heart-shaped sunglasses and awaited the inevitable comments so he could converse and expound on a variety of subjects he knew well, and perhaps even make a new friend.
Clyde was born in the quaint Wisconsin town of Sheboygan on Nov. 30, 1941, as the oldest of three children. He learned from his parents to work hard and pave his own way, and ultimately became a creative innovator of products, marketing and branding strategies, and a shining example of how to live a fun and enriching life. He was a proud 1964 graduate of the University of Notre Dame.
Clyde loved his 25-year career at Harley-Davidson Motorcycles and the integral part he played as the brand architect in its dramatic turnaround. He joined Harley-Davidson in 1977 as advertising and promotions manager and was soon promoted to director of marketing where he led the establishment of the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.). As general sales manager in the 1980s, he established new dealer incentives and a global licensing program. Next, as vice president of general merchandise, he built the motorcycle clothing line from $20 million to $100 million in five years. In his final role as Vice President of Business Development, Clyde helped to refine the strategic direction of the company as well as create the Global Rental Program and Rider’s Edge Safety Training programs. Clyde retired from Harley-Davidson in early 2002 and for the next 20 years became an active marketing consultant and motivational speaker to crowds as large as 15,000 people.
Additionally, Clyde served on the Board of Trustees of the American Motorcycle Association and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. He is a 2014 inductee into the Sturgis Hall of Fame.
A pivotal moment in Clyde’s life was when he was accepted into the exclusive motorcycle group known as The Hamsters, a brotherhood that extended far beyond two wheels, an engine, and countless exhilarating rides. He relished every friendship, every moment spent chatting with a Brother, the Adios Amigos parties he threw at the end of Sturgis Bike Week at his Spearfish residence, and wearing the coveted Hamster gold tee-shirts.
Clyde met his wife, known as River, in 2021 and they quickly discovered they wanted to be together forever and that forever should begin as soon as possible. They were married in Spearfish, on Aug. 13, 2021. Only days later Clyde and River were exposed to COVID. Within a week, Clyde was admitted to the hospital fighting for his life and resulting in his passing on their one-month anniversary. A tragic and unexpected event to what should have been years together. Alfred Lord Tennyson reminds us all that, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Clyde and River believed that one should cherish every moment… especially the small ones, as this is what life is made of.
Clyde is survived by his loving wife Dorine (River) Currey Rivers, his son Clyde Derek Fessler (partner Annmarie Satriano-Hoskins), grandchildren Clyde Donovan Fessler, Xander Fessler, Lorelei Fessler, his sister Julie Long (daughters Kirsten and Kelley), and his brother John (Jack) Fessler.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date: BYOHSS (Bring Your Own Heart-Shaped Sunglasses) and make a new friend.
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