This page is dedicated to my younger brother Dan.
Dan at Norwalk Dragstrips
Night of Fire 7/2000
He was diagnosed on Nov. 15th of 2004 with terminal liver cancer.
He's had one chemo (mixture) treatment that had some effect, but it's
incureable. Because of other complications, a transplant isn't an option. The
doctors have given him 1 year life expectancy.
Daniel Joe Tatroe, Justene's Husband/soul mate, Rusty's Dad/
best friend and our Brother in every sense and meaning of the word, passed away on June 17th
2005 at 10:00 pm.
He was among his family and friends at home and because of the very kind and caring people
of Hospice his passing was very comfortable and peaceful.
We had about an hour and a half visitation at his home before Gabe, the funeral director
and family friend came to get him. It was much like a “parlor viewing” of old.
A very good and much loved friend of Dan's gave the service, Mike Tilbury,
it was warm and personal as only a friend that really knew Dan could do.
The service itself was as respectful and well attended as the community of Three Rivers has been all
the way through this, I don't know why I'm surprised, Dan was a friend magnet
and Three Rivers has the best selection of friends a person could hope for.
After we follow his wishes (as closely as we can, that is) his ashes will be placed with
his Grandma June and Father at Rosedale Memorial Cemetery in Grand Rapids, MI.
We are using the Saturday of the Northern Nationals at US 131 Dragway in Martin, MI,
August 13, to have a family and friends day of remembrance and farewells.
During the weekend of June 4th I was telling Dan that I was going to (and did) take my 5
almost 6 yr. old grandson, Dawson to the Super Chevy Show at 131 on June 11th. It was his
first live race as he has seen all of my DVD's and tapes and has been to a live Monster Truck
Show already. Dan told me about an event that was going to happen at Joliet, Route 66
Dragway, that turned out to be the NHRA Spring Nationals, well Dan thought it was
happening on the weekend of the 18th, so I thought I was going to a show two weekends in a row
, not that I'm complaining.
Two days later Dan called back to say he had the dates wrong, which I already knew from checking
the Route 66 Dragway website, the event at Joliet was the same day as the Chevy Show and he
didn't know if he was up to going.
So Dawson and I were at the Chevy Show and the first round of Nitro Coupes, Pro Mods, 1
Nitro Dragster, 1 Wheelstander (Bob Hall) and two Jet Funny Cars (Dawson did
alot of smiling and oooohing & awwwwwwing that day) had ended. It was 93 and very humid
so we were at my truck ( 68 Chevy or “Grandpas Bad Ass Truck”)(his Dad taught
him that phrase . . . not ME !!) splashing ice water at each other
when I got beeped on the direct connect.
It was Dan, he says “hey how are ya . . . oh wait listen to this . .
. ” it was very obviously the sound of Top Fuel, I heard the warm up, the
burn out, the run, then Dan's commentary “one broke the other turned 4.46
at 331 mph” I said “so you're at Joli . . . . ” and another pair
fired up and again the full run followed by commentary, “4.4 something 330 something,”
is it hot over there too, we're roastin' . . .” and another
pair fired up, again the full run followed by commentary, “4.4 something 330
something,” only this time we got to chat a little and “yes, Rusty and a friend
and I drove over this morning and we're enjoying it so far . . .” and the
connection faded away. I thought, cool, Rusty got him over there, he's a
Dawson and I enjoyed more of the show, I kept hearing “grandpa look at that car, grandpa
we're missing the races,” this was every time a car fired-up anywhere, “grandpa we
need to get back to our seats,” etc .... so after our last pass thru the pits
for a couple t-shirts and a mangled piston and rod from a Nitro Coupe we packed up and headed home,
Dawson almost made it to US 131 expressway (maybe 1 1/2 miles from the gate) before falling asleep. I
thought again how good the word “Grandpa” sounds and feels.
I talked to Dan on Monday the 13th and this was his version of that day: they'd decided, kinda at
the last minute, to go to Joliet, he had bought and worn a tank top and got sunburned,
and they had climbed to the top of 50 rows of bleacher seats (he had to take 3 breaks to do it
!) otherwise he had a good time.
The next call I got was on the 17th about 1:30 pm at work, telling me hospice was saying to
get there fast. We got there about 4:30 and Dan was just this side of a coma
......... They said he was “waiting for me”
.......... He passed at about 10:00 pm.
The next day we were all talking and eventually pieced together the real story of Dan's last road
trip, it went something like this :
Dan and Rusty had plans to go to MIS (Michigan International Speedway) on Father's Day for
the NASCAR event but when Dan found the real date of the Joliet event he told Rusty he would rather
go there. Dan slept most of the week before the race and Rusty was thinking that they weren't
going because, hospice said he would sleep more and more and for longer periods of time as this
progressed. Saturday morning came and (much to everyone's surprise) Dan was up and
ready to go at 5:00 am, he insisted on driving there, 2 1/2 hours, wouldn't
even consider the wheelchair.
At this point his liver had all but stopped working and the fluids that made him look 9 months pregnant were
dropping into his legs and feet causing them to swell and make walking very uncomfortable. Along with
looking pregnant he had no muscle structure left either, making him VERY boney, pale and gaunt.
After having some time to think about everything and knowing Dan as long as I did, he did some
pre-planning. He knew Justene had to work and couldn't go which was good for him because
she wasn't letting him drive and for good reason. He knew he had to get up and get outa there
before anyone could stop him because he was going to have a “day at the races, his way”.
He also knew Rusty was there to help in case something did happen.
So here's Dan, as much as Dan could be “Dan at the races”, wearing his Red,
White Blue NHRA hat, a tank top of Larry Dixons that he bought there, had autographed by
Larry, and put right on, his favorite bibs and fur lined leather slippers, because that's
all that would fit over his feet at that point !
He enjoyed the races as he always did, got sunburned, smelled the Nitro, felt the
Thunder and wandered the pits one last time. He also insisted on driving home, another 2 1/2
Did he know he wouldn't make it to Father's Day ? Your guess is as good as ours.
He never complained, only commented about feeling weak or how skinny he was getting.
He was just like Dad in that respect. Too proud to bother anyone with his problems.
This is what he was wearing at the funeral.
His well worn red, white and blue NHRA hat
and favorite “Uncle”
Bob Motz shirt over his Buckeye shirt.
Family and friends held a benefit pig roast and silent auction on Saturday,
March 5, 2005. It was held at the U.A.W. hall in Three Rivers, Michigan.
It was very nice and very busy, almost all of the donations sold. Lots of good
caring, giving people, mostly friends and family.
The three highest selling items were bought/won buy a couple of Dan's friends.
The highest was the (signed) Don Garlits poster, it sold for $226.00,
second was a very nice (signed) lined jacket from Dale Erhardt Jr.,
it was red with Budweiser all over it, $200.00 and were won buy Rusty's
(Dan's son) boss Greg Nichols who then gave them to Dan.
In fact Greg and his wife Cindy spent/donated one thousand dollars ($1,000).
Very good people. Close to $6,000 was raised.
Dan had his six week after treatment check up and CT scan just before the benefit and found the big tumor
on the left side, that was treated, is coming back already and that one of the three on the right
has doubled and a series of smaller ones have shown up also. They can only do two more treatments,
because of the mixture of chemicals it is, so the questions were . . .
do another on the next biggest one? or hit the same one again? or do no more treatments?
. . .
It seems that treating one, only agravated/promoted the others.
Dan has chosen no more treatments . . .
He's taking methadone and liquid morphine for the pain “to be comfortable” as he puts it.
Plus a half a dozen other meds. His spirits are as good as can be expected, better actually.
He talks about all of this like we were working on a car or something, but everytime I hug him there
is less of him there, he said the doctor told him if they could remove the cancer and all of it's
effects he would only weigh about 130 lbs, very thin and boney . . .
Sorry about being so blunt with this, there is no easy way to say it.
On a good note we (Dan, Justene, Joyce, Rusty and myself) had a very uplifting
outing this past Saturday evening 3-12-05 at a Tesla concert in Kalamazoo which you can read about farther
down this page.
With the deepest appreciation and gratitude we thank the following
people & organizations for their donations and help with the benefit. We will continue to
accept help after this event and possibly have another auction later in the spring.
Jim Amos - Bee On Video
Dale Ernhardt Incorporated
Robin & Ray Friel
Barty & Scott Greene
Fred Harris - Replicast Record Models
Kim & Dennis Jones - Fiberglass Composites
Cindy & Greg Nichols - Nichols Floor Coverings
Bert & Major Rowe
Celene & Art Susan
Joyce Ann Tatroe
Double Whammy - Music Group
The Red Wings - Detroit Hockey Champions
Our Evening With Tesla
Just before the benefit Dan told me that he wanted to surprise his wife Justene for
her birthday with a party and tickets to the Tesla show at the State Theatre in Kalamazoo. We
surprised her good during the benefit with a cake and gifts. This was her 40th. In order to get 5
seats in a row we ended up with 2nd from the top row of the balcony, so I called the theater and
asked if they had a handicapped section for Dan and Justene. I received a call back from a woman
named Jackie Mitchell who told me she could, at the very least, move Dan and Justene to the
main floor but to check at the box office before going in. I told my wife about the move but not
the others, being Dan, Justene and Dan's son Rusty.
When we arrived at the show I went to the box office and contacted Jackie and she traded all 5 seats with
very nice main floor seats and she also surprised us with “Meet and Greet” passes for after the show!
The show itself was the band's 15 yr anniversary of their “Five Man Acoustical Jam”
tour and was a cool mix of electric and acoustic playing. So after the show we waited,
down in the front corner of the main floor,
with about 20 other people for the band to come out. When they did most of the people rushed over to them
for autographs and pictures, we kinda held back to let the crowd thin out some, Jackie came over
and said she was our “personal photographer” and would follow us around taking pictures whenever
we were ready. I said “you know better than us when is a good time to mingle” then Dan said
“it's kinda like thanksgiving dinner, you hold back to let the crowd thin out then go in”.
So we waited for a few minutes when I said “problem is the crowds not thinning out at all”.
Jackie said something and went for a walk.
The bass player, Brian Wheat, came over and visited with us and Dan asked if he was a hockey fan
because he had a Redwings jersey on, he said “no he just liked how the jerseys fit and then said that
sometimes he wears the wrong team in the wrong area and gets booed off the stage” very nice and humorus
person. Soon Jackie was back and told us to follow her, we headed right into the crowd, the band
was lead into an alcove in the wall of the theater, we were told to go in with them, then we had about a
thousand pictures taken. Well maybe not that many but it sure seemed like it! Just our family and the band!
Then we shook hands and said thanks and good lucks all around and we walked away stunned and amazed!
What a wonderful evening it turned out to be and all because of a kind, caring,
wonderful person named Jackie Mitchell. It proved to us that there are still “really good, kind people”
Back row left to right:
Troy Luccketta-Percussion, Me,
my wife Joyce, Jeff Keith-Vocals,
Tommy Skeoch-Guitar, Frank Hannon-Guitars
Front row: Rusty (Dan's
son) Dan and his wife Justene
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