Jim’s last ride

Family of late Garwin native takes his beloved Harley Davidson out for emotional final trip

Mark Mast, son-in-law of the late Jim Adair, a Garwin native, drives Adair’s beloved three-wheeled hand controlled Harley Davidson trike to several of his favorite places in the Marshalltown community on Friday, May 10, including Select Physical Therapy inside the UnityPoint hospital (pictured). Adair, a Navy veteran and longtime Emerson/Fisher employee, was buried at Riverside Cemetery with full military honors after the ride. PHOTO BY ROBERT MAHARRY

The late Jim Adair lost the ability to drive his truck when ¾ of both of his feet were amputated due to an allergic reaction to Heparin during open heart surgery 4 ½ years ago, and he struggled with the reality that he couldn’t go places on his own and had to rely on others to do things as simple as traveling to Hy-Vee for coffee or Select Physical Therapy for his appointments.

The Garwin native and longtime Marshalltonian, who passed away at the age of 78 on April 13, found a solution in the form of a 100-year anniversary three-wheel Harley Davidson trike with hand controls thanks to his daughter Michelle Mast, who saw an advertisement for it and later learned the owner had dealt with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. As Jim’s wife Connie put it, the bike gave him a newfound sense of freedom and independence.

“He could go places now again. He could go to therapy on his own. He could go get groceries,” she said. “I’m so happy that he was able to do that.”

Jim even developed a friendship with a young man who works on motorcycles in the process, often stopping at his house in the morning before his therapy appointments. About an hour before he went unresponsive at Grandview Heights during his final week on Earth in April, he had two wishes: to go home again and to ride his motorcycle one last time.

He passed just a few days later, but the family found a special way to ensure that Jim’s dream could still come true. On Friday, May 10, with his son-in-law Mark Mast driving the Harley, they brought his body home before making stops at Select (which is located inside the new UnityPoint hospital), the Emerson/Fisher facility on South 12th Avenue/Governor Road (Jim was employed with the company for over 50 years), Grandview Heights, Hy-Vee (his favorite spot for morning coffee) and finally Riverside Cemetery, where the Navy veteran now rests after being buried with full military honors and a 21-gun salute.

The late James 'Jim' Adair.

“It was a way of saying goodbye to him (for) the girls and I, and trying to give him something that we could not give him while he was still alive. Kind of granting him a final wish, if you will,” Connie said. “We know he would’ve approved. We know he would’ve gotten a big kick out of it… There were people out in front everywhere we stopped. Even at Hy-Vee, there were people out front greeting us, so that was really cool.”

Jim was known for his outgoing nature and infectious friendliness, and Connie said she was blown away by how many people reached out to tell her about the impact he made on their lives.

“He touched a lot more lives than we realized, and he was an extraordinary person, apparently. So it’s been a real eye opener to realize how important he was to people, so that helps with the healing, I think it really does, to know that so many people cared about him,” she said.