In Memory Of

Mike Garzee

Written by  August 31, 2007

Mike Garzee
January 1, 1956 – July 9, 2007

Editor's Note: Mike Garzee was a beloved husband, father and friend. This page is a collection of personal memoirs that were sent to me by several of Mike's closest friends and family members. Mike was also a good friend of mine, so I included some of my own personal memories toward the bottom of this page.

Mike's visitation was held on Thursday, July 12, at Park Lawn Northland Chapel in Liberty, Missouri. The folks at Park Lawn went out of their way to accommodate Mike's family's request by displaying his motorcycle next to his casket inside the chapel. On Friday, July 13, several friends and family members joined Mike on one last ride to his final resting place at the Dewitt Evergreen Cemetery in Dewitt, Missouri. This was a true biker's funeral that every rider would be proud of.

The photos on this page are from previous articles and events we have covered over the past several years, along with photos from Mike's visitation and funeral.

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HUSBAND
I don't know where to go from here. I am lost without Mike. I would have been married to Mike 25 years on December 28, 2007. We met at a bar in Kansas City, Kansas called Pickin' and Grinnin' on February 17, 1980. We moved in together in 1981 and then moved to Denton, Texas in 1982 and got married. Angela was three-years-old when we met, and Michael came along on October 27, 1983. We had the family we wanted; a girl and a boy.

We stayed in Texas until 1986, and came home so Mike could spend time with his dad. We bought our home in Excelsior Springs, Missouri in May of 1990. We still were not into motorcycles yet; however, Mike's dad would come up and see us on his motorcycle. In March of 2000, Mike's dad had an aneurism and was hospitalized for 7 1/2 weeks. I was there every day that whole time, which is when I met Guy Girratono, Bill Ferguson, Don Portwood, and many others. They all had ridden bikes with dad for years.

Dad passed away on May 4, 2000, and Guy got a bike together for Mike to ride in the Ride for the Homeless. Keith Kingman, Mike's stepbrother also got a bike and they rode in dad's honor. The next week, Keith bought dad's bike and Mike bought the bike Guy had loaned him. Mike's bike was not big enough, so just a short time later he got his 1999 Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad, which, by the way, is what dad's bike was. So Mike and Keith started chroming things, and I think Mike won. We later started going on rides and met all our friends we know now.

Mike started fixing up bikes and selling them. He started working on a Honda 750 Chopper, which he never did get done. He was very proud of the way Brad's trike turned out, which was built in our garage. Those weekends building that trike were some of the happiest and funniest times we had with friends.

Mike was a giver and would do anything he could to help people. Our biker friends are the best in the world and have been here for me. Mike would have appreciated all of you for helping me. Now I have to figure out how to live without my love with me. One moment…one step…one day at a time.

Mike, I miss you, I love you very much, and I can't wait to see you again.

Love you,
Helen

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FATHER
Many of you know Mike was my step dad. I don't. Mike was the only dad I have ever had, and there was never any 'step' to it. My dad was the wildest, craziest, and don't forget the biggest pain in the butt, that I have ever known. But that's cool, because he would say the same about us kids, and we learned from the best.

Many say that a man's home is his castle. Well, in my dad's case, his castle was his garage. A garage you say? Not just any garage. It was a 4-car, 2-story, heated and air conditioned 'male pad.' I swear when mom and dad bought the house, I don't even think he looked at the house itself. He took one look at the garage and said 'SOLD!' He spent every living moment out in the garage fixing or fabricating something.

I will never forget on my 16th birthday, he cleaned out the main level of the garage and hid all my friends in there for a surprise birthday party. All my friends would always come in and say 'Hi dad.' He would always shoot back with 'I ain't your dad!' But deep inside, he loved it!

I remember him walking me down the isle for my wedding. I will never forget telling him he was going to be a grandpa. He made it very clear he would NEVER be a grandpa...he was right... he was a Papa... and a damn good one! I have two boys that loved their Papa more than life itself. My younger son would always call his Mema just to ask, 'Where's Papa?' Those where always the first words out of his mouth. He would call Papa and say 'What's up dude?' And dad would just laugh. And don't even get me started when Papa would bring out the motorcycle. Dad always knew that he would have to take them kids for a ride up and down the street. And he loved it.

There is a song that says 'He's an angel, with no halo, and one wing in the fire.' That describes my dad to a 'T.' He would help anyone in a heartbeat, but always lived his life on the edge.

We love you dad,
Angela Jackson

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FRIEND
The 2003 Mad Cow Ride itself wasn't that memorable, but what developed was. That was the day John and I met Mike and Helen Garzee. We had ended the ride at Wabash BBQ, and then Helen invited us to sit with them due to limited seating. From that one act of kindness a friendship developed.

Sometimes it's hard to separate people when you do things mostly as couples, but Helen and Mike are two very different people. They are both very kindhearted and would help anyone in any way they can. Helen depended on Mike to be her rock and help her thru life, and Mike depended on Helen for guidance and to help him stay on the straight-and-narrow; which was a full time job for her.

Mike had a big heart and would bend over backwards to help someone in need. We always did the Veterans Ride, the ride for the homeless and the Immaculate Manor ride.

Mike and Helen both were big helpers when I was sick and were there to help in any way possible. In the winter of 2005-2006 when another friend was sick, Mike was there for him. This spring, Mike was the master fabricator in building our friend Brad a trike out of an 88 Harley-Davidson Softail. Other guys were there also, working nights and weekends to make Brad's dream to ride again a reality. Thanks to Mike, Jerry, Dan, John, Randy, Gibson, and everyone else who stopped by to see how it was going.

Saturday, July 7, 2007 was our last ride together. Mike and Helen, John and I, Jerry and Billy, and Brad went to the sprint car races at Lakeside Speedway. We had a great time, the races were awesome, and everyone enjoyed the camaraderie among the best of friends.

Thanks, Mike, for the memories of your laughter, that raspy low laugh, the ideas of things I could do to dress up my Kow (Kawasaki). We both have Kow's; him a Nomad and me a Vulcan Classic. The jokes about your false teeth and jokes on Brad, your goofy looks and off-the-wall comments; especially when wearing those crazy poke-a-dot beanie caps. You did make a difference in people lives. We'll miss you but, you'll always be in our hearts.

Carol Diaz

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FRIEND
Thanks to Mike Garzee I'm able to ride again, and that has had the biggest positive impact on my life. He was the typical trucker guy, had a great knowledge of how things worked, and would claim to be a mechanical genius. Since he knew 10 times more than me, I never argued. Mike left us with memories of a great sense of humor, hard worker, and a love for motorcycles. He will never be forgotten and I'll miss him deeply. I'll see you again someday bud.

Brad Bryant

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FRIEND
The first time I met Mike and Helen Garzee was on Sunday, May 5, 2005 at the City Union Mission during the 16th Annual Bikers with a Mission (BWAM) – Run for the Homeless. I don't remember who introduced us, but I do remember thinking 'What a nice couple!'

I later discovered we had some mutual friends, John and Carol Diaz, and from that point on, we would hook up with Mike and Helen from time to time at various rides and events throughout the year. Although I didn't get to see Mike and Helen near as often as I would have liked to, I cherish the time we spent together and consider them to be true friends and riding companions.

Another fond memory I have of Mike is that he always got the biggest kick out of calling me 'Sweety.' At first, I wasn't sure if he thought my last name really was
Sweety, rather than Schweder, but I soon figured out he was just jacking with me. Mike had a great sense of humor and that is one of the many things I will truly miss about him.

Each year, on our trip to Sturgis, we stop along a fence row between Ogallala and Lewellen, Nebraska, known as Booth Hill. Boot Hill got its name due to a longstanding tradition of placing the boot of a deceased riding companion on one of the fence posts while on the way to Sturgis. This year, my friend Brad, join us on the trip, and brought along one of Mike's boots. We found the perfect location, tied Mike's boot to the post, placed a wildflower through the boot strings, and said a few kind words in memory of our good friend Mike Garzee.

I miss you Mike, and look forward to our next ride together.

Mike Sweety…oops…I mean, Schweder

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Photos provided by Mike Schweder, Brad Bryant, Angela Jackson & Margaret Liggett