Ervin G. Van Beek, 95

Ervin G. Van Beek, 95, of West Bend, passed away Wednesday, June 29, 2011, at Cedar Lake Health and Rehabilitation Center in the town of West Bend.

He was born on April 12, 1916, in West Bend to the late Joseph and Anna (nee Sauer) Van Beek. Ervin attended St. Maryís Grade School and West Bend High School. Ervin initially was employed at the Barton Washer Company. In 1941, upon receiving a 4-F draft status due to a leg injury suffered during a motorcycle accident, he traveled to Baltimore, Md., where he worked at the Martin Aircraft Plant building B-26 bombers. He tested the first prototype bomb chute used on the B-26s. In 1942, with his father ill, Ervin returned home to work with him at the automobile dealership. His interest in airplanes and flying remained throughout his life, however. Next to his family and friends, Ervinís passion in life was motorcycles. He rode them for nine decades, from 1929 to 2000 and through all of the 48 continental United States.

Ervin was united in marriage to Rosemary Jansen on Oct. 28, 1944, at St. Maryís Immaculate Conception Church.

In 1946, he opened the first new motorcycle dealership in West Bend. He sold and serviced the Harley-Davison brand as part of Van Beek Motor Company, the local Chrysler-Plymouth franchise, owned by his father, Joseph Van Beek. When his father passed away in 1953, Ervin and his sister, Lucille continued running the business jointly. In June of 1965, the automobile dealership was discontinued. Ervin concentrated on motorcycle sales and service. He relocated to the former Lithia Brewery Building, renaming the business Van Beek Cycle, Inc. He remained at this location until he retired in 1980. Ervin sold the business to Jim Dricken, who continued operating under Van Beek Cycle until 2000. In addition to Harley-Davidson, he sold and serviced Bridgestone, Triumph, and Suzuki motorcycles.

Ervin was on a first name basis with Arthur Davidson, one of the original four Harley-Davidson founders, in addition to several subsequent CEOs, including former president Bill Davidson Jr. Ervin would often pick up new motorcycles directly from the factory, and invariably, Bill would wave him into his office for a visit. He had a good working relationship with the company through the years. Ervin was deeply moved when Harley - Davidson recognized his lifelong contributions to motorcycling with a framed proclamation and private tour of the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee on Oct. 11, 2008.

Throughout his many years in business, Ervinís most important goal was good customer service. He would never let a customer go away unhappy He would do whatever was necessary to satisfy their needs, often at his own expense. Itís this business legacy which he was the most proud of during his retirement.

Ervin was a member of St. Maryís Immaculate Conception Parish, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) in Oshkosh, and the Antique Motorcycle Club. He enjoyed time at his cottage on Long Lake.

He is survived by his two children, Tom (Barbara) Van Beek of West Bend, and Lori (Stan "Whitey") Heisler of Silver Creek; three grandchildren, Greg Van Beek of West Bend, Lynn Bannenberg of Silver Creek, and Kevin (Melissa) Heisler of Batavia; a sister-in-law, Evelyn Jansen of West Bend; two brothers-in-law, Steve Jansen of West Bend and James Jansen of Chicago; other relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Rosemary Van Beek, and a sister, Lucille (William) McCarty.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday, July 5, at 7 p.m. at St. Maryís Immaculate Conception Church, 1610 Monroe St., West Bend. The Rev. John J. Radetsky will be the presider. Visitation will be at the church on Tuesday from 3 p.m. until the time of the mass. Ervinís relatives, friends, former customers are invited to bring their motorcycle to the visitation in his honor. Burial will take place Wednesday at 10 a.m. in St. Maryís Cemetery in the town of Barton.

Memorials to St. Maryís Immaculate Conception Church and School are appreciated by the family.

Myrhum-Patten Funeral & Cremation Service is serving the family. Online guest book and condolences may be found at www.myrhumpatten.com.

    The family would like to thank to Cedar Bay West, Cedar Community, and Countryside nursing staff for their special care of Ervin.