Gary Dean Grace, 52, of Halfway died April 26, 2004, at Las Vegas, Nev., from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident outside Kingman, Ariz., on April 22, 2004.
There will be a celebration of life memorial service at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Lions Club Park in Halfway. Friends are invited to a potluck at the Lions Club after the service.
Gary was born on April 4, 1952, at Biloxi, Miss., to Lowell and Bonnie Lindsay Grace. His father was in the U.S. Air Force, stationed at Keesler Air Force Base at the time.
Gary grew up in many different areas of the country and overseas, due to his father’s Air Force career. The time he loved most was in Alabama learning to hunt and fish in the rural area around Millbrook during his middle school and early high school years.
Gary graduated from Warner High School at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines in 1970, but received his diploma from Huntington Beach High back in California. He returned to the United States to work. Later in 1970, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force himself.
Father and son were in the armed services at the same time. Gary enlisted and was sent to Lachland Air Force base in Texas as his father, Lowell, was retiring from Clark Air Force Base.
Gary’s avionics training was done at Chanute in Chicago. He spent some time at March Air Force Base in California and Keesler Air Force base in Mississippi — having come full circle.
Gary served from 1970 to 1975 in the Air Force. He was based in Guam during the Vietnam War, maintaining F-4 fighter electronics as an avionics specialist and later worked at Bitburg in Germany. After leaving the service, he returned to California, where his parents had retired.
In 1976, he married Lee A. Meier. They had two sons: Michael Dean Grace and Jeremy James Grace. That marriage ended in 1997.
Gary went back to night school after the service to continue his education while he worked at various jobs in water treatment as well as power and utilities. Ultimately, he became an electronics specialist working for California Edison for 15 years.
When Edison deregulated, he was looking for a job. His uncle, Jack Lindsay, had worked for Idaho Power Co. for many years, and encouraged him to apply for a job in the Northwest. On June 29, 1998, he was offered the job of technician for Idaho Power and moved to Brownlee.
He received the job offer by phone while getting some job screening tests done at the Pine- Eagle Clinic. This place would later figure prominently in his life.
The Panhandle area was perfect for Gary, as he was an avid hunter and fisherman all his life. He loved shooting of all types, and did his own reloading.
At the time of his death, he was in the process of training a chocolate pointing Labrador by the name of “Harley” for bird hunting. He often said that moving up to Oregon was one of the best things he had ever done.
From the time he was 9 and talked his father into a Cushman scooter to deliver his papers on instead of a bicycle, Gary’s passion was motorcycles. He rode anytime he could, for any reason or no reason at all.
He loved the saying, “Live to Ride, Ride to Live.” He rode many bikes over the years, but had always dreamed of owning a Harley Davidson motorcycle. He bought a used red Sportster in early 1999, but found that with a peanut tank, crossing long desolate stretches was rather hazardous.
The dream of a new Harley came true in the form of a Cobalt Blue Dyna Glide on June 19, 1999. He put many thousands of miles on that bike, rain or shine — including talking Kate into riding pillion back to South Dakota for the Sturgis Rally in 2001. He did, however, buy her a new, more padded seat for her birthday before they went!
Gary met Kate Kossler as a patient at the Pine-Eagle Clinic. They were acquaintances first, then friends for several years before realizing they saw something special in each other.
They started dating and became engaged on July 1, 2001. He taught Kate and both her girls, Briana and Kirian, to ride motorcycles. He was so proud when they got their official motorcycle endorsements.
In February of 2002, Gary and Kate went to Boise to pick up a new back tire for the Dyna and found a new Softail Heritage Classic sitting on the floor at the Harley dealership. He wound up buying three tires that day.
He loved the sportiness of the Dyna, but as he was always thinking of someone else, he felt that Kate would be more comfortable riding two up on a larger tourer, even when he had concerns about “being able to reach the ground.”
They spent many hours and miles riding together, including touring the Northwest, British Columbia and Alberta on their honeymoon. They were in the Southwest on vacation, planning to attend the Laughlin River run when the accident happened.
Gary and Kate were married on June 29, 2002, as Gary felt that June 29 was a day that good things happened to him. Many friends and family were there to share their joy, including Gary’s sons and grandchildren, who Kate was meeting for the first time.
Gary and Kate believed that they had each found the love of the lives and were confirming that love before God and man. Gary was an active Christian, serving as a board member for many years at the Oxbow Christian Fellowship.
He was a life member of the North American Hunting Club, and a member of the National Rifle Association and of the Harley Owners Group. At the time of his death, he was looking into starting an Eastern Oregon chapter of the Black Sheep, an organization of Harley Davidson riders for Christ. He was also active with the Hells Canyon Junior Rodeo and Baker County Fair Board and Rodeo.
Gary was well-loved and respected by his family and those who knew him. He never had an unkind word to say to or about anyone. He will be greatly missed.
Survivors include his wife, Kate Grace; sons, Michael and Jeremy Grace; stepson, Ian R. Kossler; stepdaughters, Briana and Kirian Kossler; parents, Lowell and Bonnie Grace; sisters, Cherie Warr and Cindy Baker; brother, Jim Grace; and many nieces and nephews.
Memorial contributions may be made to U.S. Bank where a scholarship is being established in Gary’s name.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, May 14, 2004
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor