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Super Seniors: Barbara Wilkins - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Super Seniors: Barbara Wilkins

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BARRE TOWN, Vt. -

It's a busy day at Wilkins Harley Davidson in Barre Town. Customers are browsing, and mechanics are repairing. With 22 employees, it's one of the largest motorcycle dealership in the state.

But one worker has revved up sales longer than anyone's there's been alive, you could call her the matriarch of motorcycles, the head honcho of Hogs.

Most days you can see Barbara Wilkins at the store, the 83-year-old isn't just a greeter but a saleswoman.

"This has a little more power than the 883, the only difference is the cylinder's bored," she says to a customer.

As you can see, Barbara knows her stuff. She and her husband started the business 65 years ago with a desire and a drive.

"It brings back a lot of memories, that when I first met Harry," she says of a photo of them.

He was just back from the war and had applied to be a Harley dealer. Money was tight back then so he needed extra income. He started working at a Barre dry cleaning business.

"He came to work for my parents, and I saw the blond hair and blues eyes and that was it!" she says.

Soon after they were married. Working both jobs, the Wilkinses slowly built up the motorcycle business in a small garage next to their house.

"We struggled in the early years, the first few years you didn't get many motorcycles," she says.

It was lean times, but times have changed and so have the riders.

The image of only men with beards riding Harley's is getting a trim. Barbara thinks 25 percent of the riders are woman.

"People have always felt that woman aren't able to do what woman do or aren't able to ride or take part in that, and I think Barb has made that apparent that that's not true," says customer Lottie Allen.

Nowadays Barbara doesn't ride anymore and Harry passed away over a decade ago. But it's still a family affair. Grandson John is the general manager.

"She's got so much insight in, so when we run into an issue or question or problem, she's just a wonderful resource to go visit with," John Lyon says.

And as long as she can drive and her mind is sharp, she will be walking through these doors.

"I love being here," she says.

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