April 23, 1939 - February 5, 2005
Saturday, February 5, was a beautiful day in Kansas City and several bikers were getting the spring itch early. Not to pass up the chance to ride, several headed out for a day trip to Atchison, Kansas. Dave and Patsy Gauger were included in this group ride.
We never know when we get up in the morning if this will be our last day on earth. You stumble out of bed, shower, get the morning paper from the yard, eat breakfast, drink a cup of coffee, and go through your morning ritual like you do every morning. This may be the last time to kiss or hug your mate, tell them you love them, talk to your children and best friends, pet your dog, feed your fish, birds or other animals, wave to the neighbors, saddle up your bike, and back it out of the garage for your final ride.
Dave was a big man with a big heart. He didn’t know a stranger and he loved spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren, riding, visiting with friends at F.O.G. Cycles, and did I mention riding? Wow, what a cool grandfather he was to his grandchildren, by making special dates with each one to take them out for breakfast on the bike. They were probably the envy of the neighborhood with other children. To his family, that is a memory they will always treasure. According to his daughter, Meredith Cole, Dave rode bikes years ago, but sold them to appease their mom and family budget. Later in life, and with his second wife, Patsy, he started riding again; a Harley and a BMW motorcycle.
I first met Dave on a charity ride in Warsaw, Missouri. We stayed in the same hotel for one night. The next morning, as I wandered out to overlook Truman Lake, Dave yelled up and said, “Would you like a cup of coffee?” Music to my ears! He was instantly my best friend! Our rooms did not come with coffee makers, but Dave had the foresight to bring his own, packed in the trailer he pulled behind his bike. We stood outside in the brisk morning sun sipping our coffee and talked about riding, rallies and trips. We all partied that night, and then I would run into him at Knuckleheads on an occasional Wednesday night for the rockabilly show, where we would sit and visit. Pretty soon he would say, “Well I better head to Kearney, I got a ways to go.”
As I mentioned earlier, Dave’s day started out with a ride to Atchison, Kansas. Lloyd Moore, a fellow biker and friend, said they all rode hard and had a great afternoon. Dave and Patsy acted like kids that day, not sixty year olds! Dave was weaving back and forth on his bike as he was listening to the tunes of big band and Patsy Cline. Patsy had her hands on her shoulders hand dancing and having a great time. Around 4:30 p.m. they decided to get something to eat and Dave said he really liked Parker’s BBQ in Parkville, so they all headed there. When they finished, it was getting late and colder outside. Everyone bundled up and decided to head in different directions. Dave said they had to get home and feed their dogs, and packed up Styrofoam boxes of scraps from everyone’s plates. After eating, they split up and went in their own directions. Lloyd and Diane headed north to I-35, and northbound on the Antioch Road bridge, they encountered an accident scene. Lloyd had to pull back and get over in a short period of time to avoid a dangerous situation. As Dave and Patsy came upon the same accident a few minutes after Lloyd and Diane had been through it, they weren’t so lucky. A car in front of them slammed on their brakes and Dave hit the car.
Lloyd had no idea that Dave would take that route home to Kearney, and said “If I had known when we left Parker’s, we could have ridden together.” You can’t second guess, could have…should have…what if? When it’s our time, we have no choice. It reminds me of a book I just read called The Five People You Meet in Heaven, where someone gives up their life so another one lives. In the book, a man met the five people who died during his lifetime to save his life. In the end, he dies to save a little girl’s life. If that is the case, Dave must have saved someone else’s life that day. It’s a thought provoking book, and makes you wonder about what fate has in store for us.
Frank Hicks, owner of F.O.G. Cycles & Knuckleheads Saloon, had this to say: “I met Dave five or six years ago and became friends right away. Dave was a friendly and very funny man. He always had a joke or two for you. Dave was quite the bullshiter and a lot of times when he would tell you something, you didn’t know whether or not to believe him. Even at his funeral, one of his friends asked me what F.O.G. stood for, and when I told him he said, “That was what Dave told him, but didn’t know whether or not to believe him.” That was just like Dave. He also had a big heart. Every Thanksgiving he would cook a bunch of turkey dinners and get together some clothes and other items and take them to the homeless shelter. That says a lot about his character. We will miss him greatly.”
Radar, Parts Manager at F.O.G. Cycles, had this to say: “Peter Fonda said something in the movie Easyrider that reminds me of Dave. “You do your own thing in your own time….you should be proud.” I think that reflects how Dave led his life. He bought his bike parts from me out of friendship and loyalty. I will miss his sense of humor and his smile.”
Dave’s best friend, Gerald Golden of Holt, had this to share about his friendship: “Dave was the most loving man I have ever met. He was outspoken and you always knew quickly, his feelings. He could never hide his big heart. He always had a helping hand to extend whether he had time or not. When I would ask a favor I always asked, “Are you busy Dave?” He would respond with, “It doesn’t make any difference - that is what friends are for - what have you got? Dave was a heavy user of the telephone, often just calling around to make sure everyone was okay or to chat, offer help or just to say hey. He had an extraordinary friendship networking going. Dave had so many friends and acquaintances. I have never met anyone that didn’t have a funny story to tell involving Dave.”
“Dave and I spent lots of time camping and deer hunting together. Consequently, we spent many quiet times together. He would often speak of his love and appreciation of family, his parents and the values they passed on to him. His brother, his children and step-children and of his wife Patsy were all so precious to him. He would say, “I am proud of my children.” Not everyone can say that. The annual deer camp with its fireside activities was a highlight of Dave’s year, every year. But, his regular ongoing pleasure was riding his bike with Patsy and telling his adventures afterwards. In his passing, I am comforted with this thought; Dave would not have wanted to spend his last day on earth any other way than riding his bike 200 miles on a beautiful day with Patsy and other friends and having dinner with them prior to their journey back home. He will be missed, but never forgotten.”
Mayor, Bill Dane of Kearney, made some interesting comments at the church and had this to share: “Years ago, Dave was dedicated to finding and acquiring property for the Jesse James Festival Committee. Dave wanted a permanent place for the annual Jesse James festival that could be enjoyed for decades by the festival attendees. After driving around with this camera looking for property, he called me and said, “I’m picking you up, wear a suit, they had a job to do.” Dave shows up in his jeans and takes the Mayor to see an executive at a local business. He told me to ask the businessman for a significant contribution to put down on the property he had located. It was a success. Then they went to one of the local banks. He told me to ask for a low interest loan so they could acquire the property. It was a success. I did not know that Dave had already arranged the two solicitations, but just wanted me to look good. We acquired the beautiful property that is now the Jesse James Festival Ground. Dave was also instrumental in starting a youth soccer league in Kearney.”
Dave was born on April 23, 1939, in Mason City, Iowa, the son of Wayne and Alice Gauger. He grew up in the exact center of Floyd County, Iowa, and graduated from Charles City High School in 1957. He later attended North Iowa Area Community College. Having spent most of his professional life in sales, Dave traveled for several years in Northwest Missouri. In more recent years, he and his wife Patsy owned and operated Kearney Rental and Sales. Dave was a member of the Church of the Annunciation, where he was a member of the Knights of Columbus. Dave was also a member of F.O.G. Cycle Motorcycle Riding Club.
Dave is survived by his mother, Alice Gauger, Charles City, Iowa, his wife Patsy Gauger; his daughter Meredith Cole and husband Tim of Kearney; son, Wayne Gauger and wife Stephanie of Lee’s Summit; and three granddaughters, Sydney, Avery, and Sarah. He is also survived by his brother Wayne Gauger and wife Anita of Moline, Illinois; his stepchildren, Angie Nevins of Kearney, and Dan Heiman and wife Chris of Kansas City; and step-grandchildren, Jennifer and Jon Nevins; Matthew, Kyle and Eric Heiman, and Francesca and Max Cole.
By Goldie Arnold