With Brett Eischeid’s love for motorcycling in mind, his family and friends weren’t going to let him miss this ride.
The event on Saturday, Sept. 21, initially was planned as a fundraiser to help Eischeid pay medical bills from his cancer treatment. However, Eischeid passed away at age 49 on Sept. 6 at the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City. So what was planned as a benefit ride became a memorial event.
Family and friends said Eischeid lived and breathed motorcycling.
He loved climbing aboard his 2013 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide he called his “scooter” for destinations as far as Maine, Montana and Florida, but also a lot of local riding.
The black bike featured a Marine Corps theme, reflecting the pride he took in his service from 1988 to ’92. The inner fairing for the gauges was custom-dipped with images of Marines and Marine Corps emblems. The bike is high-powered, featuring a stage-five engine, plus an awesome speaker system.
He loved not only riding his motorcycle but also working on bikes. At his home south of Lidderdale, he had a shop next door equipped with a couple of lifts. Eischeid’s place was named the “White House” because not only was it indeed white, but he bought it from Bill Clinton — no, not that Bill Clinton, but a local fellow who just happened to share the same name of the former president.
And Eischeid loved the camaraderie of fellow motorcyclists. He welcomed his many friends to the White House for food, conversation and work on bikes. They became known as the “White House Family.”
So when plans proceeded for last month’s ride — Eischeid would have wanted his friends to go ahead and make sure they had a good time — his brother, Brad “Goob” Eischeid of Carroll, suggested Brett could still join them. And he did. Brett’s urn, resembling a motorcycle fuel tank, featuring Marine emblems and a cap bearing the message “Riding for a Brother,” rode with a couple of his White House Family members, Jacob Hannasch and his wife, Maggie, on their 2008 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic.
Brad said of Brett’s ride family carrying his urn, “They wanted to run with it, so we let them do it. Those guys are pretty tight, so I thought it might be nice to take (Brett) along with them.”
The ride proved to be a strong testament to Brett’s popularity with people from all walks of life — farmers, mechanics, doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, law officers, business owners and more. The parade of motorcycles started at the Carroll Harley-Davidson store on Highway 30. About half the riders headed west and the other half east in order to prevent congestion in the stopover towns: Roselle, Templeton, Dedham, Jamaica and Glidden.
Dan Kanne, who moved to Lidderdale six or seven years ago and became friends with Eischeid, estimated there were 135 motorcycles and 200 riders altogether. Kanne added there was “a ton of additional participation” for a post-ride get-together and auction afterward at the Piranha Club in Carroll.
“A lot of positive things came from this,” said Kanne, who worked on motorcycles together with Eischeid at the White House. “It brought a lot of people closer, and it showed the number of friends and the different lives he touched one way or another. He was friends with all kinds of people.”
Kanne, who’s head of the swine production division at GSC Agribusiness of Carroll, said, “People just were drawn to him. He wasn’t shy whatsoever. He was always happy and upbeat. You were just drawn to him and wanted to talk to him.”
Kanne noted that people who took their motorcycles to Eischeid for repairs frequently could plan on getting their hands dirty themselves.
“He wasn’t the kind of guy who would necessarily just do it for you, but would teach you how to do it,” he said. “You were going to get involved with it.”
Maggie Hannasch, who’s an English teacher and speech coach at East Sac County High School in Lake View, said, “Brett had the loudest, almost frighteningly loud, laugh. You could hear it over the roar of any bike. Brett would drop anything to help anyone even remotely connected to someone he felt was his family. Brett also loved kids and had a huge vocabulary. And he would never drink around his mother.”
Brett, a son of Jane and the late Donald Eischeid, grew up in Halbur and graduated from Carroll High School, where he participated in wrestling.
Eischeid told friends that his service in the Marines was a life-changer for him.
Maggie Hannasch said, “I think Brett would say that he was an ornery child and that the Marines ‘saved’ him. He respected anyone who was willing to sacrifice their lives for their country, and Brett loved his country.”
After his service, Eischeid lived in Montana and held various jobs, including work in the oil fields. He then returned to Halbur, where he worked in his father’s business, Don’s Construction. In 2014, following the passing of his dad, Brett transitioned the business to Hog Barn Repair and Maintenance.
The memorial ride passed the Eischeid home in Halbur.
“It was very rewarding,” Brad said of the sight. “I was very impressed. It showed he touched a lot of people.”
Maggie Hannasch said Brad earlier that day had lovingly carried Brett’s urn to her and her husband’s bike for the ride.
“The men and women in our group all seemed to harden their faces with respect and emotion as he was loaded into the touring pack,” she said. “It was a signal for us that Brett was there and we needed to be strong to show him respect.”
Funds from the ride and auction were to be given to the family, and Brad said they’d consider using them for medical bills and a charitable donation.
Kanne said he’d like to make this an annual ride, with proceeds in future years to go to a charity or special need such as the Wounded Warrior Project veterans-service organization.