Karl Duffner – RIP

Karl was a longtime Philadelphia area vintage motorcycle rider that frequented Two Wheel Tuesday from time to time. Some of you may have met him or saw him in his wheelchair last year at the Norton Gathering in Washington Crossing State Park. The photo above is of the gravestone Karl had pre-ordered the beginning of the year and is at Lawnview Cemetery, Rockledge, PA. In the past several months him and I would talk on the phone occasionally, but as I had been unable to make contact with him recently, I feared his health was declining. I found out about Karl passing away last night and have posted what I received below.

Karl Duffner died peacefully at home yesterday afternoon, November 25, 2010. He had struggled with pancreatic cancer for more than a year.

Karl was born in Pforzheim, West Germany, and came over to Philadelphia with his parents and brother Willi in 1953. He fell in love with motorcycles as a teenager.

For the next 57 years Karl was an avid rider and restorer of motorcycles, particularly BSA and BMW models, but including H-D Sportsters and his ’59 pan head, now ridden by Todd Trumbore, his long-time friend and riding buddy.

Karl was a member of the Delaware Valley BMW Riders Club, and Neshaminy and Oley chapters of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America. He was known widely in the USA and Europe as a restorer and authority
on vintage motorcycles. He made it to both Laconia and Daytona Bike Weeks almost every year, and attended most of the BMW MOA National Rallies.

He was a tough rider and toughed it out to the end, many months longer than the doctors expected. His brother Willi faithfully nursed him through the last year, including the last two months of home hospice

Karl was 70 years old.

Arrangements are being made by:
Wetzel and Son Funeral Home, Inc.
419 Huntingdon Pike
Rockledge, PA 19046

15 responses to “Karl Duffner – RIP”

  1. scott says:

    I copied the information below from the Wetzel and Son Funeral Home website…..

    “Relatives and friends are invited to his viewing on Monday, November 29, 2010 from 9:00 to 10:00 A.M. at the Wetzel and Son Funeral Home, 419 Huntingdon Pike, Rockledge, PA 19046 and to his Funeral Mass at 10:30 A.M. at St. William Church, 6200 Rising Sun Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111. A graveside service will follow at 12:00 Noon at Lawnview Cemetery, 500 Huntingdon Pike, Rockledge, PA 19046.”


    For anyone that’s interested in attending….I plan on riding up to the funeral home and will probably leave Center City around 8:00 AM.

  2. Buzz Kanter says:

    Sorry to hear of Karl’s passing, He was a very interesting guy, especially when it comes to many areas of classic motorcycles. He will be missed.

  3. Guido KAiser says:

    Karl Duffner will be missed by all who knew him. Karl will always be a true legend in the motorcycle community.He was the real deal. Even if you didn’t know him, chances are you knew of him. He was always seen on one of his beautiful machines, and they were all kept that way by Karl. Ride on in Peace Brother.

  4. Bill Mammosser says:

    This is a sad day. I first met Karl about 18 years ago at the Fingerlakes BMW rally in Watkins Glen NY. He came in on his half-red/half/blue Pan Head Harley, wearing diametrically-opposed half blue/half red leathers. I about fell on the ground, and after regaining composure, introduced myself. It would prove to be the beginning of a great friendship with the coolest and most honest guy I have ever met. I would only see him once a year at the Fingerlakes rally, but it was the high point of my weekend when Karl would arrive on one of his beautiful bikes. Karl’s last trip to the FL rally was in 2009 and that is when I found out about the illness. He brought his unreal big tank BMW and proceeded to take Best of Show at the vintage bike show. When I presented him with the plaque at the awards presentation on Sunday night, I said; “Duffner, I’ll see you here next year”. Damn, I was wrong.

  5. David Good says:

    This , indeed, is a sad day for all of Karl’s friends and motorcyclists who knew of Karl and his love of motorcycles. I first met Karl in 1976 when both he and I attended the Finger Lakes Rally (He for the first time and I for the second time). I took and instant liking to him. Over the years, if I would admire some of his equipment or attire from Germany, he would always offer to get them for me. Over the years I took him up on the always open offer, and aquired a 417 Harro Tank Bag, two Heinrich tanks, Two sets of Harro Leathers and on and on. He was a member of the BMW Dutch Country Riders (my BMW Club) for a number of years and would always return from his annual Summer in Germany with pictures and stories that would leave me speechless. Karl was responsible for the enhancement of so much of my 40 years of motorcycling experiences that I will always be eternally grateful to have known him and to have been able to call him a friend. I wish him God Speed and I will see him down the road, for sure!

  6. R_Anger says:

    Sad day indeed. Gonna miss seeing him at Lori’s (breakfast before The Norton Gathering), Mid-Ohio, Etc. Ride On Karl…

  7. Lew Sellers says:

    It was with much surprise and sadness that I learned of his passing. Such a Great guy with a wealth of knowlage and pleasant manner. I loved to hear of his his travels both here and abroad and I thought that Munch Mamouth wheel on his Beemer was really cool. We need more of him. Have a nice ride my friend down that road on which no man returns.

  8. Norm Nelson says:

    I met Karl in 2001 when I owned BMW Motorcycles of Daytona Beach. I have a ’58 Sportster, a ’56 BSA Gold Star, and a ’78 R100RS and so bonded immediately with Karl. What a great motorcycling enthusiast and meticulous fellow he was! I used to enjoy seeing him in Daytona at Bike Week riding one of his “James Dean” or “Marilyn Monroe” Honda Rebel 250’s. He will be missed by all.

  9. Johnny Lawson says:

    My favorite memory of Karl. When I was about 15 or so my grandparents, my cousin, and I were dining at “Nifty Fifties” or how ever you spell it. I look up and see an old face under jet black hair. After a few minutes I knew it had to be Karl, on a date with a chick that I was droolin over at 15. Karl had it goin. HAHA. But as I was leaving and I passed his table I asked, “Are you, Karl Duffner?”.Like he was a movie star or something. He said, “Yea”. I said “its little Johnny Lawson” and he was suprised to see how much i’ve grown and asked about things. He was a cool guy. I typed in bing, Karl Duffner, and this was one of the links that came up. But after seeing the other pages about Karl I think people could say he was like a movie star. A movie star that did a million miles on bikes over his lifetime. That was his claim to fame. To Karl!

  10. Lorraine and I took the kids to meet Karl in 1979 at his home in Philly. Every Spring he’d go to his boss and ask for two or three months’ leave to go to Germany in the summer. His employer would laugh and say no, and Karl would immediately quit and to overseas. He knew that his reputation all over the Delaware Valley as a crack machinist and model maker would guarantee instant employment when he got home.

    In the States he could be seen on his pristine BSA [Bastard Seized Again] but nobody held that against him. Mostly he rode BMWs. His immaculate 1954 R68, owned by Karl since 1959, prompted Lorraine and I to acquire our two. His gorgeous 1974 R90S caused us to curse him cordially for his lovely bike, whereas our R90S’s were always stained and somehow raffish and reprehensible alongside his beautiful beast.

    Oversease in Germany he rode Harleys, chiefly the red/blue bike mentioned above, so painted — according to Karl — to confuse witnesses when questioned by the police.

    Lorraine and I loved Karl, she until her death in 05, me until his in 2010, prompting me to ask myself, “Why, Lord, did you take this good man away from us and leave a man like me behind?”

    God Bless you Karl. Your goodness and kindness will outlive you by many years. You’ll always ride safe now.

  11. RENE (TEX) VORBERG says:

    My “62” XLCH is the last one Karl did. Case numbers are 35 numbers higher. (and Orie Steele wouldn’t sell him the left case, none of you would know that) ‘m trying to set a record straight about Karl. Who ever on another site posted a story about a bike through a barn coming back from Freemansburg, I’ve got the pictures. Contact me if you want to learn.

    If ya’ll are so smart. Whar was the CH’s name?

  12. emil doolittle says:

    I met Karl on the ferry heading to the Isle back in 1970 sailing from France. I couldn’t help but notice his captain america helmet and Sportster so I introduced my self. He and I rode all over Germany after the week from the Isle. We went to Belgium Grand Prix and Nuremberg. What a summer that was! Someone I just met was the most honest and loyal friend I ever had. We wrote for about 7 years after our meeting. He even wrote me letters once a month when I was stationed in Viet Nam in 72. I don’t think he ever met anybody he didn’t like. I even ran into somebody that knew him when I happened to be in a hotel in south mexico on a special mission for the air force. When on the ferry I asked him why he always had a screw driver and an adjustable open end wrench in his jacket pockets…..He said …I also have a tube of loctite. That was all he needed to repair his HD. Which I watch him do when the chain sprocket cracked and broke…..He fixed it on the side of road. RIP Karl…..I wish I would have stayed in contact with him.

  13. Richie Gee says:

    I met Karl in 1964 when he was dating my friend’s older sister. To us he was a “Spoon Man”, an affectionate term we had used for the bikers of the day. All we saw was a big motorcycle and a guy who knew a lot about them back then. I didn’t see Karl again until I moved back to Philly in the 80s and was hanging around Cycle Service on Wissinoming St when he pulled up on a BSA racer. We began to talk and he remembered his old girlfriend and my friend and we connected. I would catch him on the Fourth of July on his Panhead wearing a Red sneaker and a Blue sneaker, proud to be an American. He invited me to his home and I got to see his bikes, his trophys and his plaques and I was amazed. He explained how he machined the intake manifold on the BSA because it was not made to idle but now it did. I saw Karl in Daytona every time I was able to go into the 90s and we talked and enjoyed each others company. I’ve been out of touch with things and came across this whilst searching for old friends and have to say RIP Karl. You are missed.

  14. Cladio Gianotti says:

    I meet Karl long time ago, when He and his friend Todd Trumbore visited me at my Motorcycle Shop in Bolzano/Italy.
    we started then a letter partnership. He visited me again, short before he died…I supposed.
    Ciao Karl!!!

  15. JOE PAIN says:

    I too will miss Carl, saw him @ the Finger Lakes BMW Rally stayed over night one year @ the Seneca Lodge in a cabin next to his we talked a little nice guy

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