At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Family of John Gabb
C/O Carrie Gabb
Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Homes
60900 M-40 Highway; Paw Paw, MI 49079
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
John Gabb was a man who lived his life the way he loved those around him, with everything he had. He was an avid sportsman, with a passion for the Great Outdoors, and a lifelong biker, with a love for the open road. More than anything, John was a loyal and loving son, brother, father and friend, and a man who grabbed life by the horns — and the handlebars.
John’s story began on a cold winter day in 1964, in the bustling city of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Those were such turbulent times in this country, as the Vietnam War raged overseas, and racial tensions mounted here at home. The Beatles climbed to the top of the U.S. charts for the first time, and the Rolling Stones released their debut album. On February 1, 1964, Joseph and Yvonne (Saunders) Gabb had a debut of their own, with the birth of a baby boy, a son they named John Joseph Gabb.
John was born at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, all 7 pounds and 2 ounces of him, and was joined by his sisters Linda and Brenda in the family’s Mattawan home. When he was 10, his little brother Joseph rounded out the happy family, too.
The family was very close growing up, and John’s sisters doted on their little brother. John and his father were very close, as well, and his dad instilled a great love for the outdoors in him at an early age — in fact, too early for John’s mother! Unbeknownst to his mom, John’s dad used to sneak him out of the house to take him hunting as a boy.
John’s dad also fostered a passion for motorcycles in his first-born son, too, and when he was just eight or nine, he surprised him with his first dirt bike for Christmas. His dad fondly remembers little John tearing up and down the driveway like crazy, roaring through the snow.
John attended Mattawan Schools, and by the time he got to Mattawan High School, John had grown into a strong, tough young man. He played football for the Wildcats, the perfect sport for the fun-loving, adventurous John. Of course, sports took a backseat to his love for speed, and he raced anything he could get his hands on — cars, dirt bikes, or snowmobiles, too. Even as a young man, John grabbed life by the horns, and the handlebars.
After he graduated from Mattawan in 1982, John headed up to Grand Rapids, where he studied electronics at ITT Tech for two years. He was very mechanical by nature, and excelled in his studies. His personal life began an important new chapter, as well.
John began seeing a young woman named Sue Andersen, and eventually they became parents, with their son Chris. After four years as a family, John and Sue were married, and welcomed their second child, their daughter Carrie.
John and his growing clan moved back to Mattawan not long after, where their daughter Korey rounded out the family. Though his marriage to Sue ended in divorce, he remained a very active, involved and loving father, who provided the firm hand kids need. “It was dad’s way or the highway,” they remember well. Yet they also remember that their dad was always there for them when they needed him.
John was working at Perrigo in Allegan, and eventually bought his own home in Mattawan. He was very ambitious and constantly looking to improve his situation, and changed jobs frequently as a result, and worked at several different auto body shops over the years.
Of course, John was far from all work and no play. He enjoyed his life immensely, with many things he was passionate about, especially the great outdoors and the open road. He loved to hunt, whether it was up in a tree stand with a bow, or camped out in a blind with a rifle, John was always happy to be hunting. One of his favorite memories was the week-long hunting trip he took to a remote campsite in Menominee, in the Upper Peninsula, with his family and his beloved Jack Russell, Chance, by his side.
John loved other things, too, like listening to the wide variety of music he enjoyed, or loyally (and blindly) cheering on his Detroit Lions football team (John loved football). He loved grilling out some barbecue chicken with his brother-in-law Frank, a longstanding tradition for them. And John enjoyed spending time with his many, many friends, too, using his great gift for gab to spin his famous, funny stories.
His favorite hobby was riding his motorcycles, and he was always passionate about riding. When he wasn’t riding, he was reading about riding, as a longtime subscriber to Easy Rider magazine.
Sadly, John was diagnosed with sarcoma cancer early in 2007. Never one to back down, John once again grabbed life by the horns, and the handlebars. He went out and bought an awesome Harley-Davidson Sportster, fulfilling a lifelong dream, and rode that beautiful bike every day he could. He put 6,000 miles on it in the hot summer of 2007, until he became too sick to ride. His sister Linda bought the bike from him, and carries his memory with her on the open road today.
Sadly, John died on October 6, 2007, at his home, at the age of 43.
John was a wonderful man, who lived a wonderful life, a life full of fun times, family, friends and fond memories. John was a man with a love for the great outdoors and the open road, and for sharing his life with the people he loved. He was a loyal and loving son, brother, father and friend, who grabbed life by the horns, and handlebars, and taught us to do the same. He will be greatly missed.
Learn more about John and view his life story film Tuesday from 6:00-8:00 PM at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler & Thompson 60900 M-40, Paw Paw 657-3870 where a service to honor his life will be held Wednesday at 11:00 AM. Burial will follow at Virgo Cemetery, Texas Township. He was preceded in death by his maternal grandfather, Verlayn Saunders and paternal grandmother, Joanne Martin. Surviving are his 3 children; Christopher Andersen, Carrie Gabb, Korey Gabb, all of Mattawan, one grandson, Caleb Stanley of Mattawan, his maternal grandmother, Jean Saunders of Texas Township, his parents, Joe and Yvonne Gabb of Mattawan, 2 sisters; Linda (Frank) Fey of Mattawan, Brenda Gabb of Homosassa Springs, FL, 1 brother; Joseph (Tammy) Gabb of Decatur, MI, 2 uncles; Lee Saunders of Galesburg, Bill (Vicki) Saunders of Oshtemo Township, 6 nieces and nephews, and many friends. Please visit John’s personal Memory Page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can share a memory or photo, sign the guest book or make a memorial donation in care of the family.