Jack Gates was one of our friends that was larger than life. Not only was he a large man, but he had a heart to match his tall stature. You never saw Jack without a large smile on his face or a good story to listen to, where he would usually chuckle afterwards. Then to top it off, this gentle man was married to the tiniest sweetest women I have ever had the good fortune of knowing.
Jack and Shirley came to us late in 1988 after they had just traded their 83 Venture in on a new 1988 Venture Royale. I know they felt like the elders of the group at first, but after we got to know them better we soon discovered that they were the adventuresome type and were really very young at heart. In fact many of the trips we later shared with Jack & Shirley were true adventures.
The first long trip that I fondly remember was in 1992, where a large contingent from Chapter 6 traveled to V-Daze in Kalispell, Montana. On the return trip home, Dave Henderson, Linda and I connected up with Jack & Shirley and Fred & Sue Greenwood South of Yellowstone National Park and rode with them to Colorado. I laugh every time I remember this, but when we got to Flaming Gorge in Utah, we pulled in the parking lot to view the Gorge. Well this was a gravel-covered lot, which very often gives bikers some anxiety. Yes, it very much bothered Jack to the point that he wouldn’t turn and was heading straight for the edge, where a 200 ft cliff with water at the bottom awaited them. And Shirley, when realizing their plight, calmly said “Jack” into the intercom. They were only going 10 mph, but when there was no course correction, she said “JACK” again and then it was “JAAACK!”, where Jack gently laid the bike down in the gravel. There was no one in the club that could lay a Venture down more gracefully than Jack. Shirley may disagree with me, but she has no other experience to compare with.
Next in 1993, Brenda Jackson started the makings of a winter trip that none of us will ever forget…..a snowmobile trip in Yellowstone National Park It started out with just Brenda, Linda and I going, but before it was finished, Bill finally agreed to go. Then our niece Ashley had begged a ride, where we also took her mom, and then I talked Jack and Shirley into going with us. I didn’t have to talk too much, as this was the kind of trip that was just up their alley. What a group, and boy did we have good time. Now Brenda and Ashley will disagree, but that is their story.
Then in 1994 Linda and I decided to take Ashley on her first big bike trip in the sidecar. We chose the mountains of Western Colorado and talked Jack & Shirley into meeting us in Quarry where they were coming back from Nevada from another trip with their camping trailer. Jack & Shirley were very familiar with this area and were avid Jeepsters from past experiences. We spent four wonderful days with them; a day in Jeeps on the mountain mining roads between Quarry and Silverton; a day on the Durango-Silverton train, where both Jack and I got our share of naps; a day to the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde (yes, 5 can fit in the seat of a Ford 350 when 2 of you are small) and lastly a trip through a working gold mine.
And lastly just two years ago they rode with the group for three wonderful days in Big Bend National Park. Even though Jack had recovered from surgery and other therapies, he never let that slow him down. Whenever Jack sponsored a ride, folks showed up because they knew it was going to be an interesting ride. It didn’t matter if it was to a new eating place or for a frosty ride to the Wichita Mountains in Lawton, we came.
Jack, you were like a Father, a big brother, but most of all you were our friend. And for that we will all be forever grateful. The memories of our good times together will never be forgotten. We wish you the best in your next journey and ask that you keep the rubber side down, but more important, stay away from that front brake in slow turns.
Your Loving Friends,
Rick & Linda and the members of Texas Chapter 6