Jesse Martin del Campo Jr. channeled his love for motorcycles into a local business, plus numerous biker events aimed at helping others, friends and relatives said.
“Jesse used to tell me you’re only as good as what you can be to the next person,” friend and fellow biker Adam Bryant, of Tonganoxie, said. “He believed in helping people.”
Del Campo, 56, of Lawrence, was killed early Sunday morning in a motorcycle wreck just east of the city.
Along with his mother, he owned Slow Ride Roadhouse, the biker-friendly bar and restaurant at 1350 N. Third St. in North Lawrence, his sister Catalina Martin del Campo said.
With Jesse del Campo in charge, Slow Ride was the host for numerous biker events for good causes.
Every year on his birthday in late October, del Campo organized a big ride with a barbecue cookoff at the bar to raise money to buy gifts for families in need at Christmastime, Bryant said. He said Slow Ride also hosted a Christmas dinner for the families themselves.
Bryant said just on Saturday, Slow Ride hosted a ride and auction with live music to help his sister. Bryant’s sister is mentally disabled and after a stroke, has been unable to get around very well, he said. Del Campo told him, “We need to do what we can.”
“In the biker community, he was a pillar,” Bryant said. “He had a great heart ... I never heard Jesse say no.”
Del Campo is from a large Lawrence family.
His mother, Severina del Campo, still maintains ownership in the family’s numerous local businesses, Catalina Martin del Campo said. His father, Jesse Martin del Campo Sr., died in 2010.
Jesse del Campo Jr. was one of seven children and the oldest boy, his sister said. He had three children of his own: an adult son, a daughter who lives with her mother and 14-year-old daughter Eliana del Campo, who lived with him and whom he frequently picked up from junior high school on the back of his Harley-Davidson.
Known for firm handshakes accompanied by a hug, an ever-present smile and always being on the dance floor no matter the type of music, del Campo had the personality for being a bar owner, his sister said. Bars he previously helped run include Eastside Tavern in East Lawrence, Club 508 in North Lawrence and the Yacht Club off Sixth Street.
Between running Slow Ride, doing construction and handyman work on the family rental properties, and running over to help out when needed at La Tropicana, the North Lawrence restaurant Catalina Martin del Campo runs, Jesse del Campo was a workaholic, his sister said.
He was driven to “keeping business going,” she said, but he loved spending free time on his motorcycle and had been riding probably since high school.
“He was living on his bike,” his sister said. “That was his freedom, and we all knew that.”
The wreck that killed del Campo, which involved two motorcycles and a deer, happened shortly after midnight Sunday in the 1600 block of North 1550 Road, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
The man driving the first motorcycle swerved to miss a deer, and his motorcycle ended up on its side, said Sgt. Kristen Channel of the sheriff’s office. She said the driver of the second motorcycle, del Campo, was unable to avoid the first wrecked motorcycle and struck it, also wrecking.
Neither man was wearing a helmet, Channel said.
The driver of the first motorcycle, Robert Heafey, 51, of Lawrence, received nonlife-threatening injuries, Channel said. Del Campo was flown to the University of Kansas hospital after the wreck and died of his injuries later on Sunday.
Services for del Campo are pending and will be announced by Warren-McElwain Mortuary.