A 59-year-old Rye woman, Terri Kudlemyer, has died as a result of injuries she suffered in a three-motorcycle accident Saturday on SH 321 at FM 1008 between Tarkington and Dayton. Kudlemyer, her husband, Lewis, and their fellow members of the Freewheeler Motorcycle Club were returning home from a 9/11 benefit when the accident occurred.
According to her daughter, Charla Clapp, Kudlemyer died just after midnight on Monday, Sept. 13, as a result of head trauma and heart and lung damage she suffered in the crash.
Knowing that her last moments on earth were spent doing something she loved – riding motorcycles with her husband and friends, and supporting other people through charitable causes – brings a small measure of comfort to her family, Clapp said.
“She had gotten off of work that day and they decided to go to that benefit with their biker friends. They had a great time and were on their way home when this happened,” said Clapp, adding that her mom worked as kitchen staff for Redd’s Grill in Moss Hill.
Like many moms, Kudlemyer was the glue that held her family together, leaving her family to now sort out how they will go on without her.
“She was always there for everybody, no matter what. It didn’t matter if it was the last dime she had, if someone needed it, she would give it to them even if she didn’t know them. She was the heartbeat of our family and the strongest woman I knew,” Clapp said.
The Kudlemyers were married for 38 years and raised four children – three sons and one daughter. They met when they were very young at the Sonic restaurant in Liberty. Terri, then 17, and a student at Liberty High School, was working as a carhop when Lewis wheeled in and began to talk to her.
“He pulled up and asked her how to spell his last name. She was the first one who had ever spelled it right for him, so he jokingly said, ‘You spelled it right. Let’s get married,'” Clapp said. From there, the courtship began and they married several years later.
For a time, the family lived in the Dayton area, but in recent years, Terri, Lewis, Charla and her husband, Marvin, and the Clapps’ daughter, Amberlin, lived together in the Rye area.
On the night that Terri succumbed to her injuries, her family members were allowed to take turns at her bedside.
“Memorial Hermann Hospital staff very graciously brought my dad from his floor in the hospital to her bedside while she was passing. He got to be in the room with her when she died,” Clapp said.
Kudlemyer’s final act of service to others was organ donation. While her heart and lungs were irreparably damaged in the accident, her corneas, bone marrow and other organs were transplantable.
“Even in death, my mom is still helping people,” Clapp said.
Lewis was released from the hospital on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
The family is planning to honor Kudlemyer with a celebration of her life at the VFW Post in Cleveland in the coming days.
“She didn’t want a traditional funeral. She wanted us to celebrate her life and we are going to honor her wishes,” Clapp said.
Once funeral arrangements are finalized, the family will share them with the community.
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