A man on a Harley-Davidson stopped on the off ramp for eastbound I-94 at Portage Road on Monday when he was struck from behind by another vehicle and died.
Just before the crash, at about 5:05 p.m., Portage police had been called to the area for a report of a van being driven erratically. Before officers arrived on scene, the van struck a vehicle on the I-94 off ramp that then struck the motorcycle driven by David Pease.
The driver of the van, whose name has not been released, may have been experiencing a medical issue at the time of the crash. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Police said Pease was wearing a helmet and was pronounced dead at the scene.
David Pease always told his wife, Rhenda, that if anything ever happened to him while he was riding his Harley-Davidson, she could take comfort in knowing that he died happy. “He just loved his motorcycle,” Rhenda Pease said of her 66 year-old husband, who purchased his beloved bike last March. He said, ‘If I die on it, I’ve gone happy.’
Rhenda Pease said her husband was on his way home from work at Steensma Lawn and Power Equipment on Stadium Drive. She got word of the crash just after 6 p.m. Monday when a Portage police detective knocked on the door of her home in Kalamazoo’s Milwood neighborhood, where she and her husband have lived for the last 36 years.
The couple had plans Monday night to take his aunt and uncle, Mary and Amiel Swartz, out to dinner to celebrate the Swartz’s 72nd wedding anniversary. “He was looking forward to it,” Rhenda Pease said. “It shouldn’t have happened. He had so much life to live. But God knows what’s best.”
Rhenda fought back tears several times Tuesday as she spoke about her husband. The couple would have celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary in August. She spoke lovingly of her husband, a man who she said was a God-loving Christian who loved everyone and had a sense of humor that brought a smile to the face of anyone he met.
David Pease had just finished up a three-year stint as a deacon at Centerpoint Church in Oshtemo Township. “He was a good Christian, just a wonderful person.” Despite her sadness, Rhenda said she rejoices knowing her husband is in heaven. She said she also is thankful that he died quickly and did not suffer in Monday’s crash. “He always said he couldn’t live without me,” Pease said of her husband. “So, I thought about that, that God knew I’d be OK … He was a perfect husband. God will be faithful and take care of me and I’ve got great family and friends around me to take care of me.”
David Pease was a Kalamazoo native and graduate of Loy Norrix High School. After high school, he joined the U.S. Air Force and served in Vietnam.
Rhenda said her husband was out of the service and working as a warehouse manager for Gilmore Brothers when they first met. David then went on to work as an accountant for several local companies. After retirement, Rhenda said her husband began working at Steensma and a local golf course. She said he was very handy and good with tools and woodworking.
Asked what memory of her husband has come to mind the most since she received news of his death, she said, “His love of everybody. He always told me he loved me every day. He was so funny… he had a great sense of humor.”
In addition to his wife, aunt and uncle, David Pease is survived by his daughter, Kemberlee (Matthew) Mahaffey, of St. Louis, Mo.; two grandsons, Luke and Colin Mahaffey; and his sister, Sandra Graciano, of San Antonio, Texas. A service for Pease is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Centerpoint Church, 2345 N. 10th St.