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KPIX 5 anchor shares story of her family's encounter with Hells Angel Sonny Barger

Sonny Barger, leader of Oakland Hells Angels, dies at 83
Sonny Barger, leader of Oakland Hells Angels, dies at 83 03:03

OAKLAND -- On the day notorious Hells Angel leader Sonny Barger passed away, KPIX 5 anchor and reporter Juliette Goodrich shared a personal story about an encounter her family had with Barger when she was just an infant.

Barger, the notorious founding member of the Hells Angels charter in Oakland, died on Thursday. His passing was announced with a statement he had written to be released on social media after his death. 

Sonny Barger founded the Oakland charter of the Hells Angels in 1957. The Oakland club house is still here and operating as part of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.

Barger became the public face of the notorious motorcycle club during the '60s, particularly after the club provided security for the infamous Rolling Stones concert at Altamont in 1969 that included one fatal stabbing and three other accidental deaths. 

No comments were released Thursday by the Oakland charter, but a small memorial of flowers was set up outside the club house.  

The Facebook post that announced his death said Barger passed peacefully after a brief battle with cancer and was surrounded by loved ones.

In 2007, the club house held a homecoming for Barger in the Bay Area. He was 68 at the time. Cancer had  robbed him of his voice. 

"Somebody asked me a while back what's the best thing that ever happened to you. I said, 'I woke up this morning," Barger said in 2007. 

The Hells Angels, including Barger, faced numerous federal charges throughout the years. Barger himself had numerous run-ins with the law. His arrests included charges that ranged from drunken driving to attempted murder. He  served thirteen years behind bars at various prisons. 

Later, he wrote about his life and the Hells Angels in a memoir. At one point, he served as a consultant on the biker-gang focused television show "Sons Of Anarchy."

KPIX reporter Goodrich and her family had a personal connection with Barger. Her father Jules Bonjour was a defense attorney who at one point represented some members of the Oakland charter of the Hells Angels. Bonjour met Sonny through them. 

While Barger was never a client, he personally dropped off a gift at the Bonjour household one night after Juliette was born. 

"We were living up the Oakland hills," Bonjour remembered in an interview with his daughter Thursday. "You were three or four months old. And one night there was a knock at the door and it was Sonny. He said, 'I heard you had a baby. Well, I have something for you.'" 

Sonny Barger with cradle
Sonny Barger with cradle. CBS

Bonjour continued: "He proceeded to come in the house with the cradle. He explained every time a member has a baby, they pass the cradle around for the new baby. And he wanted us to have it. And of course, I expressed appreciation. I think your mother was a little bit rattled. When Sonny Barger says he wants to give you a gift, you say, 'Yes, thank you Sonny! We appreciate it!"

During the interview, Juliette showed photos of Barger outside the house with the cradle she slept for a time until the Hells Angel leader returned to their home unannounced.

Hells Angels cradle
Hells Angels cradle CBS

"There was another knock on the door and there was Sonny," said Bonjour. "And he said, 'I've got to have the cradle, Another one of the members had a baby.' So I told your mother. 'Go get Juliette out of the cradle.' Sunny came in the house and picked up the cradle and he left."

In his closing statement Barger said keep your head up high, stay loyal, remain free and always value honor. 

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