Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kenny Grman Memorial Tribute Ride & Fundraiser

Dear friends of Kenny,

As many of you know, Ken Grman passed away on Wednesday, July 28th, after a long battle with esophageal cancer. After 30 years in Springfield, as the owner and operator Grman's Motorcycle Service, where he provided the highest quality workmanship and customer service to be found, we are now saying 'goodbye' to Kenny.

From the very day of his diagnosis, and the subsequent months while he was fighting, dozens and dozens of Kenny's friends and customers sent their kind wishes and support, asking if there was anything that they could do to help. There were countless offers to throw fundraisers and the such, but due to the potential financial complications, nothing could be done, at the time. Sadly, we have lost Ken, and the family is now working through the slow process of grieving, and figuring out how life will now change as a result of his departure.

We appreciate hearing every horn that honks as it drives past the shop, as we know that you are sending your condolences with that small gesture, which means so much to us. Finally, we are able to throw that big party for Ken that we weren't able to throw, earlier, and with the planning now finished, we are ready to extend our heartfelt invitation to you all:

Kenny Grman Memorial Tribute Ride and Fundraiser
Saturday, September 18th, 2010
1200 N. Airport Road, Springfield, IL 62707
(We're meeting at Standard Aero's parking lot, formerly Garrett Aviation)

Registration: 11:30am–12:30pm
$20.00 Donation

Photo: 12:45pm
We will be taking a photo of the entire group, before we leave the Airport. This photo, embossed, along with a full CD of the 'best photos of the day', will be made available to all riders. Info will be available at Registration.

Ride: 1:00pm
We'll be leaving for Mt. Olive, IL, where Ken is buried, at 1:00pm, sharp. The registration staff will stay around until 1:30pm, for any late comers, but please try to make it before 12:30pm, so that you can be a part of the big group photo at 12:45pm.

Hurley’s Banquet Center & Main Street Saloon
113 W. Main, Mt. Olive, IL 62069 (217) 999-3411

The route we're taking from the Airport will be Interstate 55, Exit 44 Mt. Olive, Left on 138, which turns into Main Street.

When we first arrive in Mt. Olive, we will stop at the cemetery where Ken has been laid to rest, where we will pay our respects and say a few words. From there, we will continue on to Hurley's Banquet Center.

2:00pm - 5:00pm
Hurley's Banquet Center
Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Potato Salad, Cole Slaw, Baked Beans
Triple Chocolate Cake
Beverages & Beer

5:00pm - 8:00pm
Hurley's Tavern
Kenny Tribute:
Our Thank-You's to Everyone
Share Your Stories About Kenny - Pass the microphone, which will be hooked into the bar-wide sound system, so that everyone in the bar, no matter where they are sitting, will be able to hear.
Kenny's Favorite Music

We will have the following items available:
- "Grman's Motorcycle Service" T-shirts
- Kenny Grman Memorial Shop Towel ( 14" x 14" custom embroidered)
- Memorial Patches

If you wanna stay on....
Live Music / Band

We're making this a very special tribute event for Kenny, and we're hoping to see as many of Ken's friends and customers as possible! Please spread the word!!!

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call or email:
Laura 608-358-4418

Love to you all!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

RSVP for Ken's Memorial Tribute Ride on Sept. 18th

Hi all,

We're finalizing the details for Ken's Memorial Tribute Ride, planned for Saturday, September 18th, (please see previous Post), and we need to get an idea of how many folks will be joining in.

Please email me at laura@stratess.com, or call me at 608-358-4418, to let me know that you're joining the ride.

We'll know by tomorrow just exactly where the riders will be meeting up on the 18th, though we know it will be somewhere here in Springfield at 12:00pm, noon. We'll also know the route we'll be taking down to Mt. Olive, where Ken is buried. The pig roast, picnic foods and beer will be served at Hurley's Banquet Center on Main Street, in Mt. Olive. Afterward, we'll continue on at Hurley's Tavern, next door.

Fliers will be posted and distributed around Springfield next week, so keep your eyes open for one, and spread the word!

We miss our Kenny terribly,
(Ken's sister)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Save the date!

It looks like Saturday, September 18th, will be the date of Kenny's memorial tribute ride, which will run from Springfield down to Mt. Olive, IL. The exact time and starting point is yet to be determined, but we wanted to give you the heads-up on the date, so that you can start making your own plans.

The intention is to meet up in Springfield, do a drive-by Ken's mom's house by the Springfield Airport, and then past Ken's shop, Grman's Motorcycle Service, on Browning Road, (right there by the airport), and then up to 5th Street, and then south, on out of town on Interstate 55. When we arrive in Mt. Olive, we will meet at Ken's grave site in Calgary Cemetery, maybe have someone say a few words, and then from there we will head into town, to Hurley's Banquet Center and Hurley's Tavern on Main Street, where we'll be roasting a pig, right there in the parking lot between the banquet center and the tavern. The rest of the details will be coming, soon. ...Also, we're planning on Saturday, September 25th, as the alternate date, in case the 18th is rained out.

Many thanks to everyone, for your calls and ideas for this tribute ride. Keep them coming. Ideas for advertising the event, ideas for things to do at the event, ideas for tribute and memorial items, anything you can think of. Again, I can be reached at 608-358-4418, or email me at laura@stratess.com. And, of course, post a comment directly to this blog if you'd like, so that your ideas can be shared with everyone here.

Kenny would be truly touched, and I can just hear him saying "I can't believe you're going to this much trouble on my account!" I don't think Ken ever fully realized just how appreciated and loved he truly was... no matter how often we tried to tell him. Kenny was our one-of-kind Springfield son.

Thanks so much,
(Ken's sister)

Monday, August 2, 2010

To all of Ken's dear friends,

With Ken's visitation services and burial now behind us, we can turn our attention to planning the memorial tribute ride for Kenny. We're still deciding on the exact date and place, but we'll know, very soon. We do know that it will be on a weekend, sometime in the next few weeks. We'll post the specifics, in a few days. Please keep watching, and spread the word. We're going to do it up right, and show the world how bikers say "goodbye" to their loved ones! It will be a wonderful tribute.

The visitation service was overwhelming, and Ken's entire family was moved, beyond words, by the outpouring of love and respect that was shown by all of Ken's amazing friends. I only wish that we could have gotten a picture of the parking lot and street at Butler Funeral Home, as I'm told they were filled with bikes.

All the many stories that were shared with us, in the receiving line last night, really meant a lot. Thank you all, so very much.

From Inga and all of Ken's family,

(Ken's sister)
To all of Ken's beloved friends and family,

The following is the eulogy that was written for Ken, and read by Ken's nephew, Neil, at the burial service that was held, earlier today. We wanted to share this with all of you:

I’m Neil Kenneth, Kenny’s nephew, and our family wanted me to speak on their behalf, today, to share our memories of Kenny, as we pay tribute to him. Knowing Kenny, he wouldn’t have wanted us to make such a fuss, but like Kenny, we’re gonna do it anyway, because we do what we want!

Kenny had been fighting a terrible battle with Esophageal Cancer since his diagnosis last December. Because this deadly disease is such a silent killer, it is often not diagnosed until it is in its latest stages, as was the case with our Kenny.

But we are here today to talk about Ken’s life and who he was.

Kenny was the hardest working man that we ever met, - when he wanted to work. Until he wanted to sleep, and then he was the hardest sleeping man that we ever met! But, when he was awake, he was a determined visionary who turned his dream of “Grman’s Motorcycle Industrial Empire” into a reality, against all adversity.

For instance, Ken was met with great adversity when he first attempted to acquire the zoning he needed for his shop’s current location. The entire neighborhood pressed the zoning commission to vote against him. But Ken persevered. And, in the end, he won-over every single person who had previously voted against him, through his professionalism, his courtesy and his consideration for the neighborhood, and by showing them all that he was not the stereo-type that they had originally feared. In fact, the meticulous pride that Ken took in the care of his shop and property even compelled the Springfield Airport Commission to send him a “Thank You” letter, for keeping his property so nice, because it made such a good impression on the incoming flights. Determined, charming, proud and committed to his dreams.

And why did Ken decide he wanted to fix motorcycles? Because he kept crashing them! And they usually weren’t his! They were his brother Mike’s, and then his brother Mike’s again, then his various friends’, and then his brother Mike’s, yet again…. and so it began. From the early beginning, Ken and his buddies dragging their motorcycles up and down the basement steps at Walnut Street. And as Ken’s friend Mark used to tell him, “Ken put more miles on his bike carrying it up and down the stairs on Walnut Street than he ever put on it on the road.” But Ken was smart, and as was true with everything else throughout his life, if he was interested in it, he figured it out, and then he knew it as well or better than anyone else. Some would even say that Kenny was a genius. Not an academic, because his feelings for school began on the first day of kindergarten, (when he kicked and bit his teacher, and ran home and told his mom “I’m not going to THAT school!”), and those feelings pretty-much continued throughout his school years. But when it was on his terms, he could master anything. He was ninety-nine percent genius, and one-percent crazy, as is the case with all geniuses.

And, with genius comes passion. Of all of Ken’s many hobbies and interests, Ken loved railroads and trains, having built many model railroading boards. He loved guns and bullets, and even spent the last weeks of his life buying bullets for fun. He loved playing guitar. And, he loved his John Deere Tractor. In fact, in these last months as Ken was undergoing his treatments, one day when he was actually feeling pretty good, the first thing he wanted to do was cut his grass, which he did. And then, later said, “That was a bad idea!”

And with passion comes love. Kenny was devoted to his friends and family. In the journey of life and love, Ken’s journey began with Debbie when they were fifteen years old. And, after marriages and divorces, Ken and Deb still remained a part of each others’ lives until the day Kenny died. You may not always get it right, but what matters is that you tried. And from Ken and Deb’s journey, came Matthew, Ken’s only child, who is so much like Kenny that it astounds us! In fact, when Matthew was only a year old and barely walking, he would mimic Kenny, taking Ken’s keys and walking to the front door, holding up the keys to the lock and turning them back and forth with focused deliberation, just like his dad! We know that whatever Matthew decides he wants to do for his career, he will be as determined and successful as his father. Kenny loved Matthew with all of his heart.

In the last decade of his life, Kenny was blessed to have found his Inga, who truly loved him without reservation. She understood him better than anyone, and she provided the balance and stability that held them happily together. Kenny said that, because of Inga, his life was whole. And, he often said that he knew that Inga would be with him till the day he died. Tragically, as fate would have it, Ken got sick, and Inga selflessly cared for him, night and day, to the very end. Ken’s family is indebted to her, and will love her, always.

Throughout his life, Ken’s many friends knew him for his devilish sense of humor and his weird wit, his selflessness and his generosity, and his constant willingness to always lend a helping hand, whenever needed. His home-body ways, his love of old “Western” movies, his intensely analytical mind, and his unmatched pace at work, are some of the unique traits that made Kenny so special. In the Harley community, the respect that Kenny garnered was unmatched, with a reputation that reached across the nation, earned through his honesty and professionalism, and his dedication to quality workmanship and customer service. He was “the” premiere Harley motor man. He was, in a way, a living legend. Though he may now be gone, we can take comfort in knowing that there are countless Harley motors out there that will be running strong for years to come. In a way, a little piece of Kenny still rides with them.

We all have our favorite memories of Ken, who touched so many lives. We’ve all heard Kenny say “How long have you know me?” We can now say, not long enough. But we won’t forget his other favorite sayings, such as “Chance favors a prepared mind”, or “Smith and Wesson always beats four Aces”, or “It’s not that I don’t care, but it just doesn’t matter”, or, whenever he added oil to a fresh motor, “Ahhh, new oil, the elixir of life!”

Kenny always wanted people to remember the good times, and the good things, and to never to be unhappy on his account. We hope that we have honored those wishes, here today. Though we will all grieve for many days and even years to come, the memories of the good times and good things will bring us comfort and last forever. So now, every time you hear that lone Harley motor in the distance, think of Kenny.