Raymond McClard

Raymond McClard
Photo courtesy of Carolyn McClard Honchell

McClard was born on April 6, 1918, in Allen County, Kentucky. In his prime he stood 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed about 180 lbs. He was married to the former Gladys Dearing of Alvaton, Kentucky.

Raymond and Gladys moved to Bowling Green because of job opportunities. Raymond always liked cars but loved motorcycles.

He owned a service station in Bowling Green and later owned the Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership. He also had a penchant for politics fueled by the charm of his own personality and a natural fondness of people. According to his younger brother, H. A. McClard, Raymond “never forgot a name and was friendly to everyone he met from daylight to dark.” To illustrate, H. A. related that one day he went with Raymond to the Citizens National Bank in Bowling Green, and as they walked in Raymond saw Pauline Tabor, the madam of Bowling Green’s famous bawdy house, across the lobby. While everyone in the bank ignored her, Raymond yelled, “Hello, Pauline,” and marched over and gave her a big hug in front of everybody. The bank lobby became very quiet. “But,” H. A. continued, “that was Raymond. He treated everyone with total respect.”

McClard’s daughter, Carolyn Honchell, recently said that her father had the perfect partner in Gladys. While Raymond was boisterous, Gladys was calming. Although she was reserved and conservative, she had the business acumen to take over and successfully operate the Harley-Davidson dealership, enabling her husband to do what he loved and at which he was most adept, making his foray into local politics. Both the business and his political career thrived.

It is not surprising that Raymond was a good friend of Charles Garvin, the owner of Beech Bend Park; he was a good friend of everyone. Garvin was aware that Raymond had been trying to promote stock car racing in Bowling Green, so he persuaded Raymond to join forces with him to promote racing at Beech Bend. Raymond had the contacts and Charley had the money and facilities. The partnership prospered until Raymond began to feel the need for liability insurance. According to H. A. McClard, Charley balked at handing money over to an insurance company or, as he put it, “I don’t want to pay for somebody else’s big building. Besides, I don’t need it, I can cover whatever happens.” Raymond replied, “Maybe you can cover it, but I can’t.” The partnership ended amicably.

Anyway you look at it, Raymond McClard was quite a man. His business and political activities clearly demonstrate that he was a man who got things done. While Garvin was a superb promoter, it took somebody like McClard to go out into the community and make it happen.

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