Soon after his father died from liver cancer, Vince Maccherone got married. Now, he will continue the business he built with his father.
Sometimes, when there’s a turn in the road, Vince Maccherone can hear a little ding beneath his motorcycle. It’s the sound of an urn that’s no more than two inches tall, clinking against his ride. Inside are the ashes of his father, Larry Maccherone. The words ‘Let’s Ride, Dad’ are inscribed on the outside of the urn.
Larry Maccherone, the owner of the Pak’s Karate Academy located at 2323 N. State St., Bunnell, died at age 57 on Sept. 16, after battling liver cancer for over a year. Vince and Larry Maccherone had built the business a decade ago when the two moved to Palm Coast from Jacksonville, where they worked with Master Pak of the Pak’s Karate franchise.
“He was fine literally until the night he wasn’t,” Vince Maccherone recalled about the last year of his father’s life.
“I remember being like 8 years old and sitting on his bike. I’ve been riding with him forever,”
VINCE MACCHERONE, Pak's Karate owner
After Larry Maccherone was diagnosed in August 2017, Vince Maccherone started to take over elements of the karate business beyond his normal teaching and student pickup duties, like managing the accounts and the finances.
Vince Maccherone said that his father didn’t do chemotherapy because he wanted to live life to the fullest for as long as he could.
“All he did after he got released from the hospital was he went to his Tai Chi instructor to do acupuncture twice a week, and he put him on real Chinese medicine and herbs,” Vince Maccherone said. “He lasted a year after he got diagnosed, and he was healthy for the most part. You’d see him around town, and he rode his motorcycle every day. He still came to the school twice a week to train.”
As Vince Maccherone sat in the back room of Pak’s Karate a little over two weeks after his father’s death, he wore Larry’s eco-friendly 4ocean bracelet and his Apple Watch. But he felt a distinct lack of presence from his father not being there, as Larry was outgoing and always cracking jokes, he said.
“I remember being like 8 years old and sitting on his bike. I’ve been riding with him forever,” Vince Maccherone said. “We used to ride from Jacksonville to Daytona, even when I was 8 years old.”
As a kid, Vince would wrap his arms tight around his dad’s waist and ride without a worry. The biking traditions continued when he was old enough to get his own bike. He said the two would often take Sunday drives around town and that Larry was well-known in the area, especially at his favorite restaurant in Flagler Beach, Tortuga’s Kitchen and Bar.
“Larry was a dear friend to us. He was one of our most loyal guests,” said one of Tortuga’s owners, Scott Fox. “He became part of our Tortuga’s family. Everybody loved him.”
Fox was one of about 100 people, including Master Pak, who gathered at the remembrance ceremony for Larry Maccherone on Sept. 22 on the shores of Flagler Beach. While Larry wasn’t a surfer himself, he appreciated the sport and the ocean. During the ceremony, Vince Maccherone, Fox and a few others did a paddle out to honor his memory.
“We’ll never forget him and what he gave back to us,” Fox said. “He gave us perspective and the motivation to get through some of the adversity we had there.”
Less than two weeks after Larry’s death, Vince Maccherone got married to the woman he’s been dating for the last several years, Nikitha. He said his father was missed on their wedding day.
“He was just a funny guy, a hard worker,” Vince Maccherone said. “He was in here every day and always trying to look out for his kids.”
Pak’s Karate will continue in Bunnell, as Vince Maccherone has taken over as the business owner. Karate will always be something he and his father shared.
“He wanted me to have a school. Part of me wanted to say I have a school, too,” Vince Maccherone said. “He just decided to open the school so we could build it, so one day I could take it over.”