Many will remember Richmond County sheriff’s Deputy James “J.D.” Paugh for bringing people together.
On Monday night, more than 200 people and more than 150 motorcycles from several biker groups belonging to Paugh’s friends and family gathered at Crazy Turks Pizza restaurant on Washington Road to pay tribute to the deputy, who was killed early Sunday.
The rest of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office motorcycle unit was treated to an on-the-house and off-the-menu dinner at Carolina Ale House on Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway earlier in theevening, according to Jimmy Vowell, Paugh’s longtime friend and riding buddy.
The unit was planning to go to Turks after dinner but got the call to go to Atlanta to transport Paugh’s body back home after his autopsy was completed.
Paugh started an unofficial biker night at Crazy Turks on Mondays, when he would meet up with friends and talk motorcycles and life, said Sammy Caines, a fellow biker.
Caines also said Paugh is credited for starting a biker night on Thursdays at Carolina Ale House and was trying to start one on Wednesdays at Buffalo Wild Wings.
“Bike people are different from car people,” Caines said. “It’s a way of life. We all got something in common if you ride.”
Paugh’s personal motorcycle was a black Suzuki Boulevard, even though he rode with a largely Harley-Davidson crowd.
“He was thinking about getting a Harley,” said Cap Robertson, a retired military officer and friend. “I kept telling him, it would be an easy transition for you.”
The bike, however, doesn’t make the biker, according to Paugh’s friends.
The back porch of Turks was overflowing with people, and the motorcycles filled the parking lot. Paugh’s family was given two collages of framed pictures and a book of photos of him.
As a testament to Paugh’s networking capabilities, on the first biker night more than a year ago at Carolina Ale House, 40-50 bikers showed up.
“That’s a lot of bikers,” Caines said. “But everybody liked J.D. He would make a point of talking to everybody.”
“Sport and touring bikes always keep separate,” said Jan Yu, who knew Paugh through riding. “But everyone is here tonight for J.D.”
Columbia County sheriff’s Deputy Greg Smith had known Paugh since he was 12.
“It’s a testament to who J.D was,” he said. “Look at the amount of people here.”
Yu helped collect donations at the event, and 10 percent of sales Monday went to Paugh’s family to help with funeral arrangements.