Ron Ayres, motor cycling enthusiast, dies at age 72

Ron Ayres died of cancer in August at his Galveston home. The former Parkville and Laurel resident was 72.

Ron Ayres, a long-distance motorcycling enthusiast and former information technology executive, died of cancer Aug. 26 at his Galveston, Texas, home. The former Parkville and Laurel resident was 72.

Ronald B. Ayres was born in Baltimore and raised in eastern Baltimore County, the son of Burton F. Ayres, a H.J. Heinz salesman, and Marian Schafer Ayres, who was a real estate sales agent and broker. He attended Baltimore County elementary schools and was a 1961 graduate of Dundalk Senior High School, where he ran track. He also played tennis.

Family members said that during his time at Dundalk he developed an interest in photography. He converted a basement laundry room into a darkroom. On commission, he took photos and planned albums for weddings, births and other events.

After high school he joined the National Security Agency at Fort Meade.

"One of his most memorable projects was assisting in the development of the software for the Polaris missile submarines," said his sister, Carolyn Ayres, who lives in eastern Baltimore County. "This perhaps influenced what would be another of life passions — scuba diving. He went on to enjoy dives in places like Bonaire, Cancun, Cozumel and Maui."

Mr. Ayres also earned his pilot's license.

"He hadn't told us, and flew in and called his mom to be his first passenger," his sister said, recalling the day nearly 50 years ago at the Essex Sky Park.

Mr. Ayres left the NSA but continued to work in information technology. He joined Electronic Data Systems in Plano, Texas. A senior manager, he had assignments in Spain, Brazil and South Africa.

In 1991, Mr. Ayres became interested in motorcycling.

"He walked into a dealership and purchased what he thought would be a good bike," his sister said. "After his purchase, he asked the salesman to show him how it worked. After a few practice runs in the parking lot, Ron rode home. He was smitten."

She said her brother decided that he enjoyed long-distance riding. She said that two weeks after buying his Harley-Davidson, he began a 5,000-mile trip through the Rockies.

"He traded up to what he considered to be a more comfortable and reliable BMW bike," she said. "This was the beginning of a passion which would continue for the rest of his life."

Mr Ayres published books about riding. They include "Against the Wind," "Against the Clock," and "Going the Extra Mile." He completed a 48-state tour in less than seven days. He then continued on to Hyder, Alaska — his 49th state.

In 1995 he completed the Iron Butt Rally, a long-distance endurance ride.

In 2000 he retired from Electronic Data Systems as its South Africa chief executive officer.

Family members say Mr. Ayres found that retirement did not suit him. He formed a business that combined his affection for exotic travel with motorcycling. He and his wife formed a luxury international motorcycle touring company, Ayres Adventures.

They started tours in South America and South Africa and later expanded to Europe, Asia and North America. They staged "Epic Adventures," a 65-day tour from Moscow to Hong Kong.

"Everyone who met Ron was immediately impressed by his infectious enthusiasm, unquestioned integrity," his sister said. "He saying was, 'Life is great.'"

A life celebration will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Garten Verein, 2704 Avenue O in Galveston.

In addition to his sister, survivors include his wife of 32 years, Barbara Robinson, an economics teacher; three sons, Chris Ayres of Plano, Texas, David Ayres of Ann Arbor, Mich. and Brad Ayres of Frisco, Texas; his mother, Marian of Parkville; and eight grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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