Dale Walksler

Sunday, November 30, 1952 - Wednesday, February 3, 2021

A Man Loved by his Family and his Community

Photo of Dale Walksler  - 1952-2021

Dale Walksler, World-Renowned Vintage Motorcycle Expert and Museum Curator Dies at age 68.

Dale Walksler, founder of the Dale’s Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum, former Harley Davidson Motorcycle Dealer, and member of the American Motorcycle Association and Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame, who devoted his life to the advancement of antique motorcycles and their history, died in Maggie Valley, NC on February 3, 2021 at 68 years of age, with his wife by his side, after a courageous four-year battle with cancer.

Dale was born November 30th, 1952 in Oak Park, IL to Bernard and Mina Walksler and raised in Glen Ellen, IL. He attended Glen Bard West High School and Western Illinois University, where he studied Industrial Arts. He opened his first motorcycle shop, ‘Dale’s’ in 1973, and his second shop, ‘Custom Works’ in 1975.  In 1977, when the opportunity to buy Mt. Vernon Harley Davidson arose, he seized the chance. With a loan from his father Bernie, Dale became one of the youngest Harley Davidson Dealers in the history of the Motor Company at only 25 years of age.

His larger-than-life personality and marketing prowess allowed him to turn a small rural dealership into one of the most successful Harley Davidson franchises in the country. He renamed the dealership Dale’s Harley Davidson in 1982 and began his ascent to his status as a treasured motorcycle icon. He was voted “Dealer of the Year/Best Marketer” four years in a row by Dealer News Magazine and his exploits at his shop were legendary. He once took a bear cub in as a deposit on a motorcycle, and ‘Sammy’, as the bear cub was called, had the run of the shop until he outgrew his welcome and was retired to a local animal care facility. During this period Dale was blessed with the birth of sons Matt and Aaron. He was a successful racer and fierce competitor who participated in hill climbs, drag racing, and TT racing.  In 1992, he founded ‘Dale’s Wheels Through Time’, a museum housed inside his dealership where he displayed his collection of vintage American motorcycles. Customers came from far and wide to seek out Dale, his full-service dealership, and view his growing collection of antique machines. Dale’s theory was to use the museum to connect the next generation of motorcyclists with the rich history and traditions of Harley Davidson. It was the first of its kind.

In 1997 Dale rode a 1917 Henderson motorcycle coast-to-coast and beat Alan Bedell’s old transcontinental record, ending in New York City with an appearance on The Today Show with Al Roker.

He sold the dealership in 2000 and toured the United States scouting out a new location for his Dale’s Wheels Through Time Museum. He settled on Maggie Valley, NC, a bucolic town adjacent to the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway and built a world-class facility to house his burgeoning collection of 350-plus American-made antique motorcycles. Known as ‘The Museum That Runs’, all the motorcycles in the museum start and operate, a testament to Dale’s incredible skills, craftsmanship and expertise as well as the dedication of his staff. Son Matt worked side-by-side with Dale at the museum allowing Dale’s incredible wealth of knowledge gained from a lifetime of experience to be passed down to his son.

Dale was a passionate collector of stories and motorcycle history, as well as antique machines.  In 2008, he started building a film library to preserve these stories and history, so that future generations of motorcycle enthusiasts could be educated about their hobby and sport as well as understand the vital role that motorcycles played in the evolution of transportation and society in the 20th Century. The collection of shows, which now numbers over 500, offer a unique perspective into man’s quest to overcome time and distance.

Hollywood called and Dale hosted the series ‘What’s In the Barn’ on the Velocity Channel (now Motor Trend TV) and followed that up with his hosting duties on History Channel’s ‘American Restoration.’ The TV exposure has helped make Maggie Valley, NC a must-visit destination for motorcycle enthusiasts worldwide, and his shows still appear on TV in over 239 countries around the globe annually.

His passion for Harley-Davidson was legendary, and a core part of his DNA. When asked what drew him to the brand, Dale stated, “It was the panache of the company and the idea that four young men, working out of a shed behind their dad’s home, could change the world.” Visitors to the museum often asked him what his favorite motorcycle was, and he always answered, “the last one I just rode.”

He is survived by his beloved wife Trisha; his father and step-mother, Bernard and MaryEllen Walksler; his brother, Doug (Carol); his sons, Matt (Hailey), and Aaron; step-children, Cory (Bonnie), and MacKenzie (Jordan); his grandchildren, Brooke, Isabella, Carter, Evelyn, Madison, Myla, Christopher, Ava, and Hadley; the entire Wheels Through Time family, and thousands of friends and fans worldwide.

A celebration of Dale’s life will be announced at a later date.

At Dale’s request, in lieu of flowers, please send any donations and condolences to Wheels Through Time, PO Box 790, Maggie Valley, NC 28751. All donations will be dedicated to ensuring the continuance of the legacy that Dale created far into the future and to giving museum visitors historical insight into the vital role that transportation has played in American history. The thrill of hearing the cycles run coupled with thoughts of riding into the wind will continue to evoke thoughts of Dale’s vibrant spirit --- and his dream.

Crawford / Ray Funeral Home and Cremation Service is honored to be caring for the Walksler family.

 

 

 

Condolences from family and friends

WTT family, our hearts go out to you all, at the loss of Dale. Always remember that, although he’s physically gone, the imprint he left in our motorcycle community and the world for that matter, is something that very few people could’ve accomplished in such a short time! He left a legacy that will inspire and educate generations to come. And you all will continue that with the incredible foundation that he and his friends and family have laid. God blessed Dale and he shared his gift with the world! That’s what it’s all about. Michelle and Michael
Michelle and Michael Leeder
So very sory for your loss,thoughts n prayers, God bless you all
Jeffery Brandt sr
My most sincere condolences to the Walksler family. I will miss and never forget Dale. Dale truly H-D in his DNA. I am so thankful that Matt was able to absorb the knowledge that his Dad had. Keep the Wheels rolling Matt ! Sal Caminita
Sal Caminita
Met Dale and Matt a few years ago. Between the two of them, I felt as if I was viewing a friend's motorcycle collection. They treated me like a friend, not just a museum patron. Dale will be missed, but Matt is certainly up to continuing the legacy in a way that would make his papa proud. Cheers to a life well lived!
Bob Bowman
When we first moved to WNC, being HD enthusiasts, one of the first things we did was visit Wheels Through Time. It was on a weekday, in the winter and we appeared to be the first and only people there when they opened. As we walked through the museum, we were approached by a gentleman who began to tell us a little bit about some of the displays. We were really impressed with the depth and breadth of knowledge and the fascinating stories of how some of the items were obtained. He spent over an hour with us, and you could honestly tell he enjoyed relating the history. It wasn't until near the end of our visit when his son joined us that we realized it was Dale. We really felt honored that he spent so much time with us so we could appreciate what we were seeing. Dale was very kind and he clearly enjoyed sharing his collection and the history behind it. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Walksler family - we will keep you close in our thoughts.
Jim and Cheri Jenkins
Wheels Through Time Family. We want you all to know how much of an impression that Dale left on our family in so many ways. His kindness and great spirit lifted us all up when we needed it the most. He was always there for us and we appreciate all that he has done and the legacy that he has built will live on forever. As lifetime museum members, we will continue to visit and cherish these memories forever. Peace be with you all in this time and please know that if you ever need anything, we will be here for you too. He's riding in hog heaven! Let the memories roll on...
Franko's Family - Vicki, Les, Taffi, & Girls
Prayers for the family, at this time.We visited WTTmany times and had through privledge of meeting Dale and watching him work. He will be missed, but his legacy will livron
David & Debra Hunton
It is with deep sadness that we acknowledge the passing of our friend Dale Walksler. Dale was an icon of an individual who had an infectious passion for the world of American motorcycles. He made his dream matarialize here in Maggie Valley in a huge way. One could say with great confidence that he put Maggie "on the map" so to speak and made it a "must stop and see" for motorcycle enthusiasts all over the globe. Linda and I will truly miss him and our most heartfelt condolences and sympathies go out to his lovely wife Trish, his son Matt and all other members of his family. If there's a motorcycle track of any kind on the other side, rest assured Dale is on it. R.I.P. to "The Treasure of Maggie Valley".
Arnie & Linda Goldstein
Dale was the epitome of the old saying, once quoted by Cal Rayborn, "You make your own luck." May the Walksler family be comforted, knowing that Dale made a great difference in this world. Alav ha-shalom.
Elam Blacktree
I would like to pour out my sympathies to the Dale Walksler family at this time never having met him he seemed a great man and a true Biker.
Grover Umphryes
Talk about larger than life itself.....that was Dale Walksler! He was such an inspiration to all and especially outstanding in the Great Race. I was intrigued by stories he bought a hospital and actually lived in it. My brother, the late Tom McRae, thought so much of Dale. We actually toured the current site of where the museum now stands when it was just a side of a mountain. Dale told us of his plans and I regret we did not see him again in our travels. He accomplished so much and touched so many people. RIP and blessings to his family. He will never be forgotten.
Sister McRae
Dear Walksler Family members, I have many fond memories of Dale, going back to when we were in grade school at Ben Franklin, his motorcycle shop Carbondale, where he slept on a mattress on the shop floor and the goose he shot in the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge that Leslie cooked for Thanksgiving and I enjoyed, etc. He was a light in the world whose enthusiasm made you feel good when you were in his presence. He was a Walksler through and true. My deepest condolences to you, Mike
Mike D'Addio
So very sorry to hear of your loss. Dale held a special place in the hearts of those who are, where, or wanted to be riders. His joy was infectious even over the TV. May his memory be a blessing.
Chadd Berkun
I never met Dale he seemed Like a incredible person. My prayers to the family
Jimmy smith
God bless Dale and his family at this difficult time. We were blessed to meet Dale at WTT and he was so nice to us and everyone that crossed his path. May the family find strength knowing that Dale was loved by a lot of us. Sincerely, Lisa & Keith
Lisa & Keith Blackburn
Wish we could have met Dale when we were in Maggie Valley. Just so happened to be closed on the day we went through. We will be back! God bless his family and friends through this difficult time. He was quite a legend for the motorcycle enthusiasts.
Don and Nancy Tate - Louisiana
My condolences to the Walksler family and the Wheels Through Time family. A gratitude is owed to Dale Walksler and what he has brought to the world of motorcyclists and for the preservation, restoration and "made running" two wheeled history he has amassed. Wishing success and continued operation of the museum in honor and memory of the legacy he left us.
Dick Zick II
Deepest sympathy, met him twice. Our prayers are with you at this time.
Gerald Fleece
Deepest condolences to the WTT family. I wish I knew a quarter of what Dale knew!! I enjoy very much watch the shows he did. My son and I had good intentions to visit and hoped to meet Dale and Matt. The world flipped upside down and we were unable to travel. Hoping the future will give us a chance to meet Matt and Wheels though time museum. God speed rider I will be thinking of you when I am in the wind.
Joe Pratt. New york
I’m saddened by Dales passing but I quickly turn to the amazing memory of Dale’s hospitality. I learned of Dale and his masterpiece WTT by watching “what’s in the barn”. We are from Tulsa Ok and stopped by on a road trip. We arrived late in the day and were fortunate to meet Dale at the front counter. He proceeded to show us the highlights inc. his workshop. He saved the best for last and gave my daughter a ride around the parking lot in a side car and we felt like we were the only people there. What a great guy that gave us an amazing memory!! Rest In Peace Dale!!
Jeff, Dana & Brylie Worth
I wish all the comfort to Dales wifeTrisha, Matt and the folks there ar Wheels thru Time,Dale will sorely missed. l still have the tee shirt he and Matt signed for me we have lost the greatest ambassator for motorcycling ever!!! May you rest in peace buddy well done we all love you!!!! keep one running in heaven for me.
Terry Holloway
To all of Dale”s family and friends my heartfelt condolences
Ed Mrowiec
I had the pleasure of meeting Dale on a few occasions, on visiting Wheels Through Time with family, friends from my vacation home on Western Carolina. He was always gracious and welcoming. Never mind a wealth of information. The motorcycling community has truly lost a national treasure. My thoughts and prayers go out to all who knew and loved him. Rest In Peace!
Robert Bianco, MD
My heart goes out to Dale's family and to all of the WTT family. I have been to the museum several times over the years and Dale was always ready to engage in conversation with anyone that walked through the door! He will be greatly missed by many. What a man of vision and knowledge when it came to the world of motorcycles!
Neil Godbee
My prayers go out to Dale's family, I enjoyed Dale and the museum each time i visited it.Dale was a great guy and always had time to talk with you while you were there he will be missed by many in the motorcycle world and beyond.
Jimmy Sydnor
So sorry to hear of Dale’s passing. His passion and enthusiasm were evident. His sincerity was as well. Always wanted to visit and meet Dale and Matt. A genuine and fine person. Best wishes for family and friends.
K Brown Mustang OK
I met Dave down at Wheels Through Time about four years ago. He was truly a walking encyclopedia of Harley Davidson Motorcycle Knowledge of both sales and the actual engineering of the Big Hogs for all those years. Not only bikes, but Dale knew tons of stuff about cars, parts, racers and riders. I enjoyed spending time with him and his friends and son down at the Museum. We talked about all the old bikes and about riding the old Knuckle Heads. We are saddened by our loss of a great one from the ranks of History and Collecting Old Bikes and Cars. Our Condolences to Dave's large family and friends.
John D. Collier
A man who lives his life on his own terms followings his heart and passions has lived a life worth emulating. Dale was and will always be an inspiration to those of us that love old motorcycles and the way of life surrounding them. I count myself fortunate to have met him. He was certainly a man that couldn’t help but leave a lasting impression. My deepest condolences to the family. You have lost a loved one, the world has lost an icon, but his legacy lives on.
Walt Garren
We have been coming to Dale's Wheels Through Time every since 2003 except for 2020 because of COVID restrictions. We would always visit with Dale, MTtt and rish. Dale, myself ,and my wife Esther would always have the best conversations. Also Dale had me engrave a small plate on his tribute bike to his Mother, Mina. I also was privileged to engrave another plate to be put on the bike of "Mr Lucky". My late Father In Law gAlvin also ot to meet Dale anot long before he passed nd hejust loved hDaleas we did and recommended the Museum to everyone. Dale, you will always be in our hearts and we will always love and miss you. Rest In Peace my friend.
Steven and Esther Odgis