WHITMAN — The vibration of engines pulsated through the feet of spectators as they waved on the bikers that were participating in the Thomas “TJ” Penney scholarship memorial ride Saturday, July 27.
Friends and family assembled at the Whitman VFW to celebrate the life of a Hanson resident whose passion for motorcycles was endless.
Penney was only 22, when he was killed in May 2017 in a single motorcycle crash on Elm Street near the Hanson/ Halifax line. He was also due to graduate from Wentworth Institute of Technology with a degree in Mechanical Engineering that same spring.
He was a young man with great aptitude for repairing and rebuilding cars and loved riding in the open air. TJ restored the Chevy Impala that his brother now drives — just one of the countless projects that demonstrated his affection and talent for mechanics and his ability to “magically fix” just about anything, a point echoed by all who attended the ride.
“If it was broken, he could fix it,” said his brother Joshua.
TJ was a graduate of SST in the metal fabrication shop program.
The pack headed down South Avenue for the one-hour ride as the sounds of Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band’s classic, “Against the Wind” fused with the hum of throttles.
Joshua and his mom Sue Penney rode in the Chevy Impala as the sunlight danced off the chrome of the bikes as if to lead the way for them.
TJ had a penny tattoo on his arm, and his friend Eric Williams had a similar special bond with him. He got the same tattoo on his inner forearm so the memory of his dear friend stays close to him. The themed tables and centerpieces were decorated with tiny motorcycles and pennies made of crepe paper in his honor.
Michael Tompkinson, a neighbor and babysitter for TJ when he was young, described TJ as smart, highly intelligent, unique and positive about life.
Sue Penney greeted friends who embraced her. She wore a T-shirt with graphics of two riders on motorcycles one that represented her son who had a halo of smoke above the helmet. Along with raffle tickets, the T-shirts were also for sale to benefit the scholarship.
He was the best kid in the world, genuine, a big heart, she said as she described her late son. She rode in the Impala with her son Joshua at the wheel. They were the last riders in the procession of bikers. She gave thumbs up over the music and they rode away.
After the ride family and friends gathered to share food, raffles and friendship along with the memory of a young man that was loved by so many.