Written By: Jackie Jahfetson
Randy Movchan (center) sits on a bike while his Bad Pennies bike club members smile on May 31 in the parking lot at the I Don’t Know Bar in South Heart. Movchan was made an honorary member to the Bad Pennies upon being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in early May. (Photo courtesy of Jewel Movchan)
It was 11 a.m. in early May, about the time when Randy Movchan would pop up a chair in “The Corner of Knowledge” — his spot where he’d deliberately told the truth at the I Don’t Know Bar in downtown South Heart. He walked up to the counter and began writing a note. Usually he’ll begin joking about what’s new with owner Mike Sticka, but that day, there were no laughs. Randy Movchan began tearing up and before Sticka could ask him what was up, he walked out and left a note, stating:
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“I have stage four lung cancer… I don’t know how much time I have left. Don’t cry for me. Is it possible to become an honorable bike member when I’m gone?”
Sticka looked at the note, and through disbelief and shock, he ordered a vest and informed his biker club Bad Pennies R.C. that they were going to make Randy Movchan an honorary member.
This simple act of brotherhood and camaraderie was exactly what he needed at the point in his life, Sticka said.
“I think he saw when we started the club how we all came together and had that brotherhood of bikers, where if I need something, I call Jerry or I call Brian or I call here or I call whoever,” Sticka said. “It’s hard to find people nowadays you can rely on and trust, and 100% trust, and that’s one of the main reasons we did this.”
On May 31, the Bad Pennies presented Randy Movchan with his “Radical Randy” badge, making him an honorary member. For his daughter Jewel Movchan, 37, of Fargo, the “sea of leather and beards” was something unexpected at the tail end of her father’s life.
“I didn’t think that was a thing anymore. Like it is so totally different than the Fargo-side of this state. I’ve said before it’s almost like ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ or ‘Leave it to Beaver’ in a good way,” Jewel Movchan said. “I honestly had no idea that this existed and I had no idea that these people were so good hearted and selfless.”
Not only did the Bad Pennies make Randy Movchan an honorable member, they built a ramp attached to his home for wheel-chair and walker accessibility and they checked in countlessly with his family throughout the summer, leading up to his death.
Born Aug. 18, 1952 in Minot, Randy Movchan grew up in Butte. He married his wife in 1972 and they had two sons and one daughter, and they soon moved to Fairview, Mont., where he began working on oil rigs. With the oil boom in the early 1980s, Randy Movchan moved back to North Dakota with his family and they settled in South Heart. He worked 47 and a half years in the oil field and worked his way up the ladder from being a roustabout to being a consultant and eventually owning his own company White Owl Pumping.
His career meant the world to him, Jewel Movchan said, adding that even though it led to a family split, his passion in the oil field industry kept him going. When he found out in early May that he was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, he was devastated. It was one of the few times Jewel Movchan saw her dad cry, because the news meant he had to stop working.
“He loved what he did. He took immense pride in it, he was very knowledgeable in it and he knew the land. He had an act to remember well depths, soil or rock formation… He could diagnose issues over the phone,” she said. “I think his biggest passion would have been his career — the oil wells, the country, the driving, the mine clearing. I don’t even know, (but) I would like to know how many miles he’s driven.”
On Oct. 3, Randy Movchan passed away at 68 years old.
“He was a great guy (with a) big heart, kind of rough around the edges — that’s the oil field. You have to tell it like it is and if you don’t, people can get hurt. Multi-millions of dollars is happening so he could be (tough), but at the end of the day he had a big heart and it was for good reason,” she remarked.
Sticka, who knew Randy Movchan since he was 16 years old, had a soft spot for his dear friend. After his death, he designated a corner in his bar as “Radical Randy’s Corner of Knowledge.”
“Randy would meet me here everyday at 11 o’clock, every single day Randy was at this bar. So now I come to work and it’s kind of weird without him here, and he was my norm,” he said.
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As a club, it’s important for the Bad Pennies to help out those who are in need, Sticka said, who serves as Vice President. Throughout the year, the club will do bike runs and sell merchandise to raise money for United Way. In return, those funds help families throughout South Heart and Dickinson. Before Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Bad Pennies will go door-to-door and provide free turkeys and hams for families, and Christmas they’ll hand out presents for children.
“Anybody who knows the Bad Pennies knows what we do. And we’re not perfect by any means but our goal for this club and for what we do is to take care of people and leave things better than we found them,” Sticka said.
Randy Movchan left behind six grandchildren, three children and a brotherhood that cared deeply about him. Even at the funeral, the Bad Pennies were present to show their support for Randy Movchan’s family, and that sense of brotherhood and humanitarianism has helped Jewel Movhcan better understand what bike clubs are made of.
“What does it mean to me? It has helped with me knowing that my dad was surrounded by amazing people this past decade,” she said, adding, “It has helped me probably accept his death a little bit more, because I know that he was surrounded by that. It helped me get to know my dad even better.” 1 / 4 A few members of the Bad Pennies biker club visit Randy Movchan at his home before his death. The Bad Pennies have a brotherhood that meant the world to Movchan. (Photo courtesy of Jewel Movchan)