MILLINGTON, TN (WMC) - There were tears of joy mixed in with those brought on by sorrow Thursday for a Millington, Tennessee mother. She lost her son in a crash on Highway 51 earlier this month in the Memphis neighborhood of Frayser.
Richard Deaton died when, police said, a driver turned in front of his motorcycle at 51 and Watkins. He was laid to rest Thursday in Millington. His mother had one last wish for her son before she buried him, to hear the roar of motorcycles at his funeral. She got her request granted in spades and it was amazing how the biker community came together to make it happen.
Brenda Deaton contacted me Tuesday morning to update me that after days clinging to the final signs of life, Richard had passed last week. She told me on the phone that the only thing she wanted, other than to have her son back, was to have as many motorcycles as possible at his funeral.
A post on the Biker Dad Facebook Page expressing her wishes was shared hundreds of times. The word spread quickly.
Thursday nearly 100 bikers showed up to show their support. One of them was Mike Payne, who rolled up on his Goldwing.
"I saw the request from his mother to ask many bikers to come out and I thought 'I don't even know the kid,' but you know bikers they always kind of join together on stuff like this," Mike told me.
Brenda Deaton came outside after the funeral, thanked the bikers and gave out a few hugs. She cried some more, but clearly some of those tears were tears of joy for the sight waiting for her there.
The bikes lined up behind the pickup truck she rode in to lead the procession. One of the first in line was Richard's father, David.
David had scrambled the night before to make sure his Harley was in running condition. He still wasn't 100 percent sure the battery would hold up after it had sat for the winter. But it fired up.
Mrs. Deaton poked her head out the window , raised her hand above her head and spun her finger in the air, signaling the crowd of riders to make the motors roar. She wanted to hear the music of the motorcycles, and the crowd of bikers, obliged. They revved their engines loudly in unison before the procession finally escorted the 28-year-old biker to his final resting place.
"He's riding with better company than us now," said Paul King, a member of the Southern Cruisers Riders group
Deaton was an organ donor and his family is planning an organ donor awareness ride and fundraiser around his birthday in mid June.
Brenda Deaton wanted to thank everyone who came out to send her son off. I wanted to say the same. Thank you for being such a great group of people. I'm honored every time I get to ride with bikers here in the Mid-South.
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Chris Best is the Assistant News Director for WMC Action News 5. He's a husband and father of four, He's also a motorcycle enthusiast.