Bernard (“Barney”) Milton Larson, 81, of Cambridge, passed away on Saturday, January 6, 2018, at his home with family by his side.
Barney was born April 24, 1936, in Spring Lake, MN, to Milton & Evelyn (Johnson) Larson. Barney spent his childhood & school years in Cambridge, MN. Besides standard academics, Barney was in the HS Band in which he played the saxophone. Barney graduated with Cambridge High School Class of 1954. After high school, Barney enrolled in some college courses & worked in various blue-collar jobs which were mainly construction in the Mpls & Chicago areas, mechanical & fabrication work & helping his dad during his off-hours fixing any kind of engine thrown his way. Barney also worked for the Green Giant cannery in Le Sueur, MN in the mid 50’s.
On October 1, 1955, Barney was united in marriage to Karen Baker and they made their home in Cambridge. From this union, three children were born: Michael in 1956, John in 1957, and Lori in 1960.
In 1946, Barney’s father, Milt, began an automotive, motorcycle & small-engine repair shop on Adams Street in Cambridge called, “Larson’s Garage.” In 1955, Milt added motorcycle sales to the small business and he sold Indian, Matchless & Royal Enfield bikes and changed the name to “Larson’s Cycle.” Barney joined his dad at the business full-time in 1961. In 1963, Milt & Barney began selling Yamaha & in 1964, Honda. In the years to come, more brands came & went as the business gradually grew & expanded. In 1975, Barney began as owner of the business when Milt retired. In 1997 the business relocated to its current location on Garfield Street. In 2001, ownership of the business went to sons Mike & John, but Barney & Karen remained actively working at “The Shop” for many years. In 2011, Barney retired, but still played an active role by visiting daily, opening the doors every morning & locking up. Throughout his active years, Barney won numerous top-sales awards from Honda, Yamaha, Triumph, BSA, Husqvarna, Penton/KTM, BMW, Suzuki, among others. From 1974 -1979, Barney was fortunate enough to participate with management of the Teams USA at six of the International Six Day Trials (ISDT’s). Barney was so proud & honored to have been chosen as the club manager for the USA’s Team Husqvarna at the 1976 ISDT held in Austria. Barney’s participation in the ISDT’s as well as his business dealings, allowed him & Karen to travel extensively around the world including Italy, Isle Of Man, England, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Germany, Hawaii, Jamaica, Caribbean and Japan, among others places.
Barney had an extensive & impressive racing career having won over 200 trophies in various forms of racing. Barney’s love for racing began in 1954 when he built & raced stock-cars. He soon moved on to motorcycle racing including flat-track, scrambles, ½-mile, short-track, enduros, and hillclimbs for much of his life. When his racing days were put behind him, he remained active in running events & as an active leisure rider & collector of motorcycles and cars. In 1989, Barney rode & completed the Baja Dealer excursion which he always said was one of the best times of his life.
Barney was one of the six founding members of the Norsemen Motorcycle Club, founded in 1960 & was a lifetime member. Barney worked tirelessly at every Norsemen event whether it be arrowing enduro courses, checking at enduros, flagging at the flat-tracks/scrambles, tabulating scores, awarding trophies or selling tickets at the gate, always accompanied by his trusty rubber-chicken. Barney was also a member of the Northern Eagles MC (1956-61) & Straight Arrows Enduro Riders (1974-1979). Barney volunteered his time for years working at the indoor short-track races at the Mpls Armory during the winters, organizing clean-up & play-days at the Cambridge track and helped with the Adopt-A-Highway program. Barney spent many years attending all the racing sanction meetings. Barney also served on the District 23 Board of Directors for many years. In 2008, Barney single-handedly took on the local City Hall who tried to shut down & cancel the Cambridge Hare Scrambles; Barney won. In 2010 Barney was recognized by the District 23 ARMCA with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his involvement in, and contributions to, the motorcycling industry. Barney is also a lifetime charter member of the American Motorcycle Association & has been since 1954.
The absolute & unequivocal highlight for Barney each year was his trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Barney took his family to Sturgis beginning in 1967 & he and Karen went to the Rally for 44 years in a row. In his later years, Barney enjoyed going to the Antique Motorcycle Show/Auction in Las Vegas, the Blind Lizard Motorcycle Rally on Nicolett Island, and the Back-To-The-Fifties Car Show in Mpls each year.
It goes without saying that Barney had lifelong passions for motorcycles & cars, but his true passion was his family and they always came first to him & he was always there for each of them.
Barney was a lifetime member of the Cambridge Lutheran Church and was confirmed in the Church in May 1951.
Barney was preceded in death by his parents, Milt & Evie, and his son, John.
Barney is survived by his wife of 62 years, Karen; son Michael Larson (Tina Hjeltman) of Isanti, daughter Lori Larson of Cambridge; sister Sandra (John) Steinbring of Anoka; grandchildren Jason (Cassie) Larson, Michelle Larson, Jessia Larson (Chad Valland), Sarah Larson, Joseph M. Bistodeau, Rachel Bistodeau, Nicholas Bistodeau; daughter-in-law Sandra Larson; sister-in-law Julie Pizarro of WA; and great-grandchildren William, Joey, Olivia, Eli & Payton along with many other relatives & friends.
A Memorial Service will be held at 1:00pm on Thursday, January 11, 2018 with visitation beginning at 11:30AM at the Cambridge Lutheran Church. Interment will be at a later date. In lieu of flowers, either memorials or donations to the American Heart Assn., St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital or the ASPCA, are preferred.