He was waiting for us in front of the house that he and Barb had built on the banks of the Kinnickinnic River. The white beard made him look like a throwback to another era, yet his home was heated and cooled by thermal energy and he sold electricity back to the utilities from his solar panels. Keith Avise was an enigma, yet one of the finest people to ever grace you with his friendship.
Keith died this past week, the cancer wore him down. He had done most of the things he wanted in life and it was time. Keith and Barb Avise are both gone now, Barb having died a few years ago. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, they WERE the North Star Chapter. By that I mean, individually or together they had been President, Chief Driving Instructor, Driving Events Coordinator, Secretary etc, etc. Under Keith and Barb’s leadership and guidance, BMW CCA North Star became an organized Club putting on excellent driving schools. From their previous experiences at Motorcycle and Automobile high performance schools they brought two great elements to our North Star schools: an emphasis on Safety (Barb) and clockwork like efficiency (Keith). Standards that still serve our Club and its driving schools today.
I could write so much more about Keith and Lady Barb, their adventures in motor homes, their tenacity and graciousness after Barb’s stroke, the culinary skills and their Love Story. However, to honor Keith, let’s do it his way. Those of us in the Club who knew the Avises will always have a story to share about them. That’s how Keith loved to spend his time, with friends telling stories about exceptional people. I ask each of you who knew Keith and Barb to share with our younger members and new members, your stories and remembrances about these two remarkable people.
One last thought on Keith. He might have thought I have been too serious in my mourning his passing. The last time Dave Nielsen and I saw Keith, when he was waiting for us in front of his house on the Kinnickinnic; we drove Dave’s Track Car out to show it to Keith. We sat in the sun together, talking of Barb, mutual friends, food, death, wine and Motorsports. When we finally said our goodbyes, Keith yelled to us as we drove away: “Let me hear that thing Roar!”
I am so sorry to hear this news. I can still picture Kieth standing at the on-track entrance to the long course checking all the drivers for helmet strap and headlights on. I met him at my first track event in 1997. He was also a good, smooth driver. He was what the club is all about, welcoming and an encourager. He was always smiling and friendly to new drivers. He was such a good husband to his wife and cared for her till her end. After her stroke, he dedicated his life to taking care of her. I always admired him for his dedication to her and willingness to forgo all of his desires to take care of her. He took her in an RV so that she could go to all the places she wanted to go. I have to think that he refused cancer treatment so that he could join her again. I only hope that I can be as good a husband as Keith was. He will be missed