Dave Kanners - A Tribute
by Doug Kurtis, May. 3, 2009
Dave Kanners - A Tribute: October 12, 1946 - March 28, 2009
Dave Kanners Tribute: October 12, 1946 - March 28, 2009
Dave Kanners lived the dream. From racing hot rod cars, to climbing the tallest peaks, motocross dirt bikes, road biking and running. He sought the ultimate adventures and often thought they were worth repeating.
His infectious smile said it all. He wanted a challenge and he wanted to have fun.
Kanners liked being around people and they liked being around him. Young nieces and old timer runners alike were inspired by his unending energy and positive attitude. Personally, I found it amazing that he could schedule a chemotherapy session and be ready to help me review a course not more than a few hours later.
His memorial service last Saturday was packed with athletes, friends and family. Most had stories to tell. One friend, Roger Mollencopf talked about going on a long cycling ride that was soon followed by Dave’s suggestion to cross the United States. After dipping their tires into the Pacific Ocean the deal was sealed. Along the way, he noted that on one very steep decline Dave decided to see how fast he could go. Dave had a glee of delight when he screamed out, “Sixty-two miles and hour!”
Dave was someone who liked a good beer and fine restaurants as well as hole in the wall diners and junk food. He loved roughing it, which could mean showering in his running clothes so he could remain in one outfit all week. He loved music too. His wife, Sue noted that he liked everything from classical to country.
Kanners was a graduate of Detroit Country Day. One of his hobbies was drag racing pro stock cars for American Motors in the 60’s and 70’s.
His much younger brother Don said that Dave had a fascination with hot rods cars and could fix just about anything. He was the retired owner of Kanners All Star repair shop in Rochester Hills. When Don was six, Dave gave him his first driving lesson because he needed someone to steer a car he planned to tow. “I needed phone books to look over the steering wheel. There were usually had about ten cars out in front of the house, all in some state of repair. Dave thought a car really wasn’t broken in until it hit about 200,000 miles.”
Kanners started running to help with his motocross preparation and fell in love with running. Dick West said that Dave loved trail racing, the muddier the better. Thanks to generous age handicaps, Dave’s Great Lakes team the Fox and hounds often won or were near the top finishers.
I first met Dave when he called to ask me to join the Grand Master’s (over 50) runners. From that point he didn’t hesitate to call and offer volunteer support when he learned I was directing races. Kanners refused to use email but he loved taking the time to hand write long thoughtful letters critiquing the event or offering suggestions.
He had lots of friends, especially in the athletic world. Bob Cross helped him organize the Grand Masters running group. Kanners loved training on the Paint Creek Trail in Rochester. He was one of the founders and President of the Oakland Running Club.
One of Cross’ favorite marathon memories was their trip to Grandma’s Marathon, the year everyone sat around watching the famous police chase of O.J. Simpson’s white Bronco. “Race day was warmer than usual for Duluth & nearly 75 degrees at the finish line. We started together but Dave fell off the pace a bit early and I continued on. When I reached the finish line, I waited for him to come running in with that big smile on his face, but he was nowhere to be seen. In fact, it was quite a while before he finished.
When he finally did, he was wetter than he should have been. When I asked him what happened, he said that he got really hot and he'd always wondered what it would be like to jump in a lake alongside a course during a race. So he did!” He jumped right into cold Lake Superior.
Kanner’s loved the unusual adventures such as competing in both the Antarctica and North Pole Marathons. He just missed the Guinness record for fastest vertical mile by 90 seconds. This consisted of climbing the stairs in the Renaissance Center (70 stories) and returning to the first floor. Kanners said it took weeks to recover from the trip down.
He also went on numerous mountain climbs. Kanners climbed the tallest peak in every state except Mt. McKinley in Alaska because it would take too much pre planning and logistics. After Dave discovered he had pancreatic cancer his goals included climbing all the highest peaks a second time.
Dave was blessed to have the support of his wife Sue with many of his endeavors, according to Cross. Sue accompanied him on numerous hikes. One yearly adventure included a bike tour with friends from their Michigan home in Columbiaville to Frankenmuth for a chicken dinner. The tough and energetic friends would make the return trip too.
The Kanners also had a home on Kiawah Island in South Carolina. They often asked friends to drop in for a visit. Many of us thought Dave was going to be around forever and kept delaying our opportunity to visit.
On the back page of Kanner’s memorial program was this: “Of all the forces that make for a better world, none is so powerful as hope. With hope one can think, one can work, one can dream. If you have hope, you have everything,” unknown author. This was spot on Dave.
When we remember Dave these are just a few of his favorite things: Mountain Dew, Little Debbie snacks, purple things, Sudoku puzzles, cowboy boots, Les Miserables, jambalaya, cherry Twizzlers and collecting lucky pennies.
It will be impossible to forget Dave Kanners, his smile, his desire to make each day count by helping others. We will miss his voice but his inspiring presence will always be with us.