Michael Wayne VanBavel was born on October 29th, 1969 in Tacoma, Washington to Jerry VanBavel and Laura Mae Jones. Mike left this world on April 15th, 2022 at home surrounded by family and friends after a long battle with ALS.
Michael was a Retired Veteran rising to the rank of SMSGT in the Air Force/Air National Guard. He first enlisted into the Air Force to, “see the world” and serve his country. He often would laugh after saying that and add, “so they sent me to McChord Air Force Base, “which is just south-west of Tacoma Washington. Mike’s Primary Specialty was AGE (Aerospace Ground Equipment Mechanic). He completed basic training and was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Airforce Longevity Service Award Ribbon, his Honor Graduate Ribbon, and Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon. He served from 1990 to 1991 in support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. Mike spent 4 years in the Air Force before transitioning into the Air National Guard. While in the Air National Guard Mike served on AD in Support of Operation Noble Eagle IAW 10 USC at Hector IAP in Fargo, North Dakota. Mike entered his National Guard Service as an Aerospace Ground Equipment Craftsman and ended with Primary Specialty Changes to Voice Network System Craftsman and again with a change, to Primary Specialty of Comm Infrastructure System Support. Mike also served on AD in Support of Operation Enduring Freedom during his time in the Air National Guard. Mike loved being a military man and continued to support the military after retirement by joining the American Legion, American Legion Riders, VFW and Forty and Eight.
In his spare time, Mike loved to weld and ride motorcycles. These two hobbies of Mike’s led him to start his own business, The GONZO Garage where he serviced and made motorcycle parts for Victory Motorcycles. This is how Mike met his wife Michelle while working at Tyndall Air Force Base. Both Members of the local American Legion Post, Michelle was intrigued by his Victory Kingpin which started a conversation; their love story started from there. His business led to new friendships that formed into family with the love and support of the Victory Motorcycle customers and friends he met along the way. During his illness his Victory family supported Mike and Michelle every step of the way.
Mike made a lasting impression on those he met with his smile, charm and zest for life, which was only surpassed by the size of his heart. Mike was always willing to lend a hand, share his knowledge and expertise, or just lend a shoulder to cry on or an ear to talk to. His laugh, energy, kindness, zest for life, and of course his mischievous side, are what his friends and family will remember most.
Mike will be forever loved by those he left behind. He is survived by his wife Michelle VanBavel of Goodlettsville TN, His children, Melanie Munshower of Seattle WA, Michelle VanBavel, and Joseph VanBavel of Dilworth MN. Three Stepdaughters, Diane (Andrew) Evans of Reynoldsburg OH, Meaghan (John Jacks) Poklinkowski of Alabaster AL, and Laura (Tim Lambright) Poklinkowski of Goodlettsville TN. Mike had two Granddaughters Nadia and Vera Evans, with one more grandchild on the way. He will also be missed by the many friends he touched that became his family. We will all miss the joy, laughter, and love he brought into our lives. We as his family and friends could not be prouder of the man he was.
Memorial services will be held at Cole & Garrett funeral home in Goodlettsville, TN, 127 North Main St., with Calling hours on Friday 4/22 from 4 – 7 pm. The funeral will follow on Saturday, 4/23 with a one-hour visitation from 2 – 3 and funeral following directly after at 3 pm. In lieu of flowers a Tribute Donation may be made to The ALS Association 1300 Wilson Blvd Suite 600 Arlington, VA 22209 https://donate.als.org/