In the male-dominated world of motorcycles in the 1960s, Kay Moneghan didn’t just sit back and let the men work on Harleys. She did it herself – becoming the first woman ever to become a Harley-Davidson certified mechanic, her employees said.
In the male-dominated world of motorcycles in the 1960s, Kay Moneghan didn’t just sit back and let the men work on Harleys.
She did it herself – becoming the first woman ever to become a Harley-Davidson certified mechanic, according to her employees at Monty’s Cycle Shop Harley Davidson in West Bridgewater.
“She opened doors for women. She owned a Harley-Davidson dealership when only men owned them,” said Lori McKinnon, 47, of Bridgewater, who has worked for Moneghan for nearly a decade.
“She did stuff back then that women weren’t allowed to do,” she said.
Katherine E. Moneghan, known as “Lady Kay” to her friends and family, died at her West Bridgewater home on Sunday. She was 88.
Tuesday afternoon, a large sign on the door about Moneghan’s passing greeted customers at the North Main Street business that she founded with her late husband, Lawrence T. “Monty” Moneghan, in 1947.
She grew up in Brockton. He grew up in Whitman. The couple first met at a wedding, when she was just 10 and he, 21.
They met up again 10 years later and married on June 15, 1947. A wedding procession of more than 300 motorcycles followed the newlyweds through Brockton.
After building their home and motorcycle shop in West Bridgewater, the Moneghans worked side by side. He serviced and sold bikes. She kept the books.
The couple had five children together.
But Kay Moneghan’s world changed abruptly in 1959, when her husband died of cancer.
Left with a thriving motorcycle business to run and five children to raise, she didn’t flinch, her employees said.
“She was very much into the shop and family. They were important to her,” McKinnon said.
But it wasn’t easy, her employees said. At the time, Moneghan was a widowed mother working with motorcycles, an industry dominated by men.
“She had to earn respect from men, which I believe and from what I’ve heard, was not really easy back then,” McKinnon said.
Moneghan was generous to her customers who were short on cash, and often accepted “IOUs” from area residents who wanted to ride, said Laurel Bromley of Brockton, who has worked for Moneghan for more than a decade.
“When people didn’t have money, she would let you take her motorcycle out of here,” Bromley, 41, said.
Moneghan took business trips to Milwaukee to the Harley-Davidson factory. She brought her children to the business to learn the ropes.
Moneghan’s children were too distraught to comment for this story, her employees said.
On Saturday, as on her wedding day, Moneghan will have a motorcycle procession for her funeral. Hundreds of members of two motorcycle groups – Tumbleweeds, the South Shore group founded by her late husband, and South Shore Hog, a group sponsored by her business – are expected to participate in the procession from Brockton to West Bridgewater.
Sean Menard, 18, of Bridgewater, has only worked for Moneghan for about a year.
But during that time, Menard said he has learned a lot about Moneghan, a pioneer in the motorcycle industry.
“I was able to take in enough of the history to recognize that she was at the top of the game,” he said.
Enterprise writer Maria Papadopoulos can be reached at email@example.com