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Riding into the afterlife in peace

Leather and Lace debuted their new motorcycle hearse at Afton's Fourth of July parade

In a new business venture, Leather & Lace Motorcycle Apparel, in Afton, will be branching off and offering their customers a "ride in peace," once they have reached the end.

Ride in Peace, a new company from Leather & Lace owners Jim Kaempfer and Donna Schndele will offer a motorcycle hearse for memorial services.

"Some people are a little shocked when they first see it, but then they understand what it is," Kaempfer said.

This is the first motorcycle hearse in Minnesota.

The whole idea behind offering a motorcycle hearse for memorial services started last fall when a customer suggested the project to Leather & Lace after seeing it in a show. From there, the idea just exploded.

"The customers were interested in the uniqueness of it because our motto for leather and lace is all bikers want to look good, but they don't all want to look alike," Schindele said. "Because this is a service that is not offered everywhere, it was very appealing to them because they like different, they like unique and they don't want to do the same old thing everybody else does."

After hearing from customers about this unique service, Kaempfer and Schindele went to work researching and designing their hearse.

"It intrigued me, so we put a paper and pencil to it," Kaempfer said.

Kaempfer and Schindele went to various places for the hearse to be built -- a machinist named Greg Steffan in Cottage Grove built the frame, an artist name Crystal Kruse painted the interior mural, Valley Pontiac in Hastings painted it, and Bruce Ganzer supplied the windows.

"It's very conservative and classy looking; it doesn't have flames on it or anything, it's not too extreme," Kaempfer said. "They can trust us to be respectful and do things in a sovereign and nice way."

Kaempfer said he has done some research on the other companies that offer motorcycle hearse services, and oddly enough, the most common customer are not bikers.

"Because it's a motorcycle you'd think it be mostly bikers, but they are just people who want a unique experience and kind of go out with a splash," he said. "It's for those who have lived a great life, a unique life, they have enjoyed their life and they just want to go out in a unique way."

Kaempfer said he could envision everyone from bikers, to cowboys, to car enthusiasts, to every day people using the service.

"I think people will like the idea because otherwise you're just driving around in a caddy like everybody else," he said.

Kaempfer and Schindele have already spoken to several funeral homes about the hearse and they are very excited about it.

"They're all pumped up and interested about the idea," Kaempfer said.

The hearse made it's road debut at Afton's Fourth of July parade, and Schindele said they were really excited to be a part of that.

"Our forefathers gave their lives for our freedom, so what better way to celebrate our freedom than by honoring them with a memorial vehicle.," she said.

In the future, Kaempfer and Schindele said they may look into expanding Ride and Peace by adding other funeral services, as well as adding additional vehicles.

Both Kaempfer and Schindele are excited about the venture, and they are hopeful that it will be successful and people will appreciate it.

"We really wanted to have our new venture be something special," Schindele said. "And I think this business is going to be a great ride."

For more information about Ride in Peace, contact Donna Schindele or Jim Kaempfer at (651) 998-1344.

Kispert can be reached at

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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