Celebration of Life and Funeral Mass Details

Let us remember Chris Kegel: The World’s Most Generous Man.

(Milwaukee, WI) – “On Tuesday morning, Chris Kegel, a man of legendary love and kindness, passed away at his home surrounded by his family. Share with us in joy and sadness as we lift him to the next place.

We are certain the world is a better place because he spent time to listen and laugh with us.

The whole family is so happy to have shared his life with all of you.”

CELEBRATION OF LIFE
When: Friday, February 17th , 2017
Reception from 3 – 6:45 p.m.
Presentation at 7 p.m.
Where: Saint Matthias Catholic Parish
9306 W Beloit Rd | Milwaukee, WI 53227

FUNERAL MASS
When: 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 18 th , 2017
Where: Saint Matthias Catholic Parish
9306 W Beloit Rd | Milwaukee, WI 53227

To allow for family and staff to attend the Celebration of Life and the Funeral Mass,

ALL Wheel & Sprocket locations will CLOSED at 3 p.m. on Friday, February 17 th and be CLOSED on Saturday, February 18 th .

Kegel’s Inn, will be CLOSED on both Friday February 17th and Saturday February 18th .

February 8, 2017

Chris passed away comfortably in his sleep the morning of Tuesday February 7th. He was in the comfort of his home along with his wife Mary and his two daughters Tessa and Amelia, who slept beside him. The night before, Chris' kids gathered around him to visit, share stories, and to write down their daily words of gratitude in Chris' moleskin journal-- a now routine in Kegel's household.

We are so happy that he can rest peacefully, knowing that he lived a very full life that was rich in love and memories.

Funeral details to follow...

February 6

Chris is currently at home and is surrounded by his family. It has been a few days since he has been able to take in any food or water, and is no longer able to use his words. He is sleeping most of the day, and is only semi-conscious when awake.

We are doing everything we possibly can to make this transition as comfortable as possible.  Nurses from the Zilber Hospice Center come daily to check on Chris, and have assured us that there is nothing more we could be doing at this time-- no better care than the care we are giving him.

From reading his favorite passages in his Tao books, to singing comforting songs, to quietly sharing stories-- we are filling the space with endless love. We are sure that he is taking comfort in being surrounded by his loved ones while he prepares to leave his body. 

 

 

January 31

Its a tough decision, but at this time we are no longer accepting visitors.

We thank you all for being a wonderful part of the process. Seeing people and reminiscing has helped keep a smile on Chris' face and his heart beating strong. Now is a time for immediate family members, and we appreciate your understanding.

We will continue to keep you updated, but ask that you start collecting photos and submit them to memories@chriskegel.com. Also if you have yet to share your favorite Chris Story, please do so on the "Share a Story" section of this site: HERE

January 30th

Undoubtedly, it has been some time since an update. 

Chris has been enjoying his time visiting with his many friends and family from the comfort of his home, and since we last updated, a number of things have happened to bring joy to Chris and all the family.

One of the perhaps most mentionable things to happen as 2016 came to an end, took place at UWM-- a school that Chris never finished, but attended back in the day. Every now and again (i.e. not that often), the school awards honorary degrees for outstanding individuals. Chris was nominated, and then picked to receive an honorary doctorate degree in business. Surely the years of distinguished business practices led to not only a successful business, but also showed Chris' philanthropy and commitment to bettering the community, making him a perfect recipient for the award.  Chris was unable to attend the school's ceremony, but was offered an alternative instead. A private ceremony took place on the eve of December 15th, as the chancellor and provosts presented Chris his honorary degree for all he has done in his business practices as well as philanthropy. The evening was exciting, humbling, and totally epic.  You can read a bit about it here.

The holidays were nothing short of merry as we celebrated in the best way we know how-- by throwing our annual Christmas caroling party at Kegel's Inn. Chris was able to attend, not only physically, but in the best spirit possible. Friends and family were abound. There was food, drink, and a cheerful ambiance. We all had the best time, and Chris sang his heart out!

The latest occurrence, however, topped the previous two. On Saturday January 28th, Chris' eldest son Noel threw a party of magnificent proportions to celebrate his engagement to his love, Katie Bricco. This engagement party, meant to be a prelude to the "actual" wedding, turned out to be more magical than just an engagement celebration. Noel was on stage to make some announcements and to tell the crowd that Katie was (once again) going to be late. The music started playing and Katie arrived-- wearing the most beautiful sparkly wedding gown and veil as she walked through the party to join Noel on stage. They took turns sharing stories about their lives, and how they met, and thereafter were joined on stage by a woman from their Unitarian church, who officiated the wedding. The guests were amazed as they witnessed incredible vows of love and commitment. Although Chris was unable to attend, he watched from the comfort of his home via skype. It was a magical surprise and we are so, so thankful that Chris was able to watch his oldest son get married in the most creative and wonderful way.

 

Health:

Whereas many things continue to grow in love and in family, unfortunately, Chris' health has recently been steadily declining. At this time, he is enrolled in at-home hospice care from Zilber Hospice Center. Chris is experiencing heavy bloating in his legs and midsection, making it very hard for him to move about the house. He is feeling very weak and tired most of the time. Thankfully he has found much comfort in the care he has been receiving. From the nurses at Zilber, to his wonderfully caring wife, Mary. From his youngest daughter Tessa, who joins him during the 5 days of the work week, to the countless family members who are there for him in every way possible. He is in great hands

We have appreciated the drop-ins and constant flow of loved ones, but what Chris needs now is rest, relaxation, and peaceful days. Visits from now on will be limited to family only in order to give Chris the environment he really needs. 

Thanks for checking in with us, and we'll update you soon.

 

November 19th Update

Hello Friends.

Apologies again for the time between posts. The world keeps turning, and finding the new ways to reinstate normal can sometimes take you a little bit to find your balance.

As of late, there have not been many significant medical changes. Chris has been trying out different treatments to help him regain strength, and has been to Froedtert to meet with another set of doctors to find out more about his cancer. The last CT scan showed that his stents are holding up nicely, and his liver is functioning. The cancer masses were visible, but not significantly more prevalent than before. Pain management and being as healthy as possible has been the main goal over the last weeks/months. All of the advice, articles, and help from you all has been greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Visitors from all stages of Chris' life have continued to pour in from across the country. As always, he and Mary are posting pictures on the regular on their facebook pages (if you wanna snoop :) https://www.facebook.com/chris.g.kegel)

In addition, amazing tributes to Chris and his life's work are continuing to surface:

  • Milwaukee County Parks renames Milwaukee's first mountain bike trail system "The Alpha Trails" to the "Chris Kegel Alpha Trails" in honor of his continuous service to the Parks. Special ceremony to celebrate coming soon.
  • Tim Blumenthal (of People for Bikes) gives a speech at the IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) World Summit acknowledging Chris' impact on cycling that helped shape our nation.
  • Chris receives special recognition at the Saris Gala. 3 of the 4 Kegel kids help demonstrate what makes him special and showcase a great video recapping the amazing day of the SLOW ROLL:

Please watch and enjoy!

A HUGE THANK YOU TO BARRY MAINWOOD, OUR GREAT FRIEND FOR THIS VIDEO!

Friday, October 7th

Hey all!

Sorry its been a while since the last update, so here is the abbreviated version:

1. Chris is recovering well and focusing on getting healthy in the comfort of his condo.

2. Visitors are welcome and pouring through. Chris is arranging his own schedule now, but asks that you text him first.

Chris Fortune (owner of Saris Cycling Group), Chris and Ken Hannis (Saris Cycling)

In the News:

Ozaukee County Board declares Oct. 3rd and every Oct. 3rd after as Chris G Kegel Day on the Ozaukee County Interurban Trail. Chris is a long-time supporter of the Interurban Trail and was instrumental in realizing the trail bridge over I-43. The bridge was dedicated on Oct. 3rd, 2009 and has been a crucial bicycle connection ever since. Congratulations Chris!

Conceive it, believe it, achieve it: the bike bridge over I-43 is still one of Chris' favorite achievements.

Conceive it, believe it, achieve it: the bike bridge over I-43 is still one of Chris' favorite achievements.

The Official Proclamation from Ozaukee County

The Official Proclamation from Ozaukee County

Monday, September 27th

Chris Kegel Day.

We are floored. There are no words that can describe how perfect Sunday was, so we will tell a story in pictures.

The Start Line:

8:00am... the positive energy is humming. Volunteers arrive early to help us set up as our friends at Trek drop off 1,000 T-shirts with Chris' smiling face in his favorite color- hi-vis yellow. Kevin Hardman (long time friend and DRI for getting this whole party started) is calm and smiling as we all soak up the calm before the storm. By 9:30am, we run out of T-shirts. The start line is packed with riders of all ages and bike-types, a sight that would make Chris so proud. It was a beautiful. At 9:55am, the Kegel kids climb on top of the Wheel & Sprocket van and share their appreciation for all of the people in front of them, and reiterate how amazing it is to grow up with a dad like Chris Kegel.


The Ride:

The ride goes off without a hitch along the Hank Aaron State Trail heading east to Lake Shore State Park. With well over 1,000 riders and the average bike spanning 5.5 feet, we estimate that our ride takes up a good mile of cyclists sharing their love for Chris. As we rolled slow, the conversation flows and the good juju reverberates around the city.


Banner Signing at Lake Shore State Park:

It was wonderful. The ride, the weather, the love of all of these people on bikes. Our favorite stories include people who haven't been on bikes in years who decided today was a day to ride, people who have never experienced this trail before enjoying the beauty of Milwaukee from a new perspective, and people enjoying the magic of what a bike ride can do to lift your spirit.


The Trek After Party at Kegel's Inn:

We cannot express our gratitude to Trek Bicycles for putting on this party. A lot of people may know that Wheel & Sprocket and Trek have a great business relationship, but maybe do not know how deep the Kegel and Burke family relationship runs. The first day Chris was out of surgery, John Burke along with the key people at Trek are by his side. The Tuesday before this Sunday's party, we had a meeting on how to throw the most epic event of his life... and we think we nailed it. Thank you again EVERYONE for the best day ever: Chris Kegel Day.


The Family Reunion:

So much love from Wheel & Sprocket employees, past and present, as we gather around one of the most generous people on the planet, and a legend in the cycling world: Chris Kegel. Each of our lives has been made better by working for, and working with you.

So much love from Wheel & Sprocket employees, past and present, as we gather around one of the most generous people on the planet, and a legend in the cycling world: Chris Kegel. Each of our lives has been made better by working for, and working with you.

HUGE SHOUT OUTS MUST GO TO:  John Burke and Trek Bicycle (For donating T-shirts, all of the logistics, employees, & supplies for the after party, and for the all around support), Kevin Hardman (Lead Planner for the Whole Shebang), The Wisconsin Bike Fed- specifically Dave Schlabowske and Wendy Hanisch (Photos and volunteer coordination), Tom Schuler and Team Sports (Course marking and Marshaling), Wisconsin State Fair Park (Parking and logistics), Dean Seher and Clearchannel Outdoor (Digital Billboards to get the word out) and all of our friends who came out to make this day so incredibly memorable in such a short period of time.

Saturday, September 24th

STATUS: Chris is still recovering from surgery at home and still not accepting visitors.

There is nothing quite like the comforts of your own bed, and after a week at the hospital, there is really "no place like home". Chris has enjoyed being back and is taking time to heal.

The news of Chris Kegel Day along with the continuous love and support from family and friends is working to make Chris feel better. Love is a powerful medicine, so THANK YOU ALL AGAIN.

We are resting up and getting ready for tomorrow's epic event. Though we are taking things day-by-day, the goal is for Chris to attend the party for an hour or two.

Special thank yous again must go out again to our #1 supporter Trek Bicycles for the T-shirts, after party, & event logistics, Kevin Hardman for organizing the whole thing, the Wisconsin Bike Fed, and countless others who have stepped up with such short notice to honor Chris with this ride.

We look forward to celebrating tomorrow, September 25th 2016, officially proclaimed Chris Kegel day by the State of Wisconsin and Cities of Milwaukee & West Allis. :)

 

Thursday September 22nd

After a long weekend of countless visitors (thanks all!) Chris is truly feeling the love. He is slowly gaining more energy and feeling much better in his recovery from surgery. Yesterday, in fact, he was detached from all IV's and was able to take a nice long jaunt around St. Mary's. It has been a wonderful facility (that looks more like a hotel than a hospital) and Chris has been very appreciative of the caliber of care, comfort, and professionalism that was given during his stay.

Today is a momentous day-- Chris will be released from the hospital today so that he can rest in a more comfortable environment.

This means, however, he will be taking a break from all visitors. Though he has enjoyed seeing EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU, he will use the next bit of time to relax peacefully with his love, Mary Hanley-Kegel, and his family.

We will announce when he can have visitors, so keep checking here.

Please take the time to part take in Chris' Slow Roll Bike Ride that will take place THIS SUNDAY at STATE FAIR PARK with the party to follow at KEGEL'S INN

#kegelstrong

September 19th 6PM

The oncologist arrives to give the news, the news we've all been waiting for. He sits down with a reluctant look on his face. 

The diagnosis: Chris is experiencing the workings of cholangiocarcinoma, or, bile duct cancer-- much like we suspected. Cholangiocarcinoma is a rare and fast-paced form of cancer that originates in the bile ducts which drain bile from the liver. The symptoms: abnormal liver function, jaundice, itching, and weight-loss. All were present leading up to this. 

Without treatment, we were told 3-6 months. With treatment, more like 11 months. 

Chris will be researching options on how to proceed.

Monday September 19th

Today is a low-energy day. Visitors have been filtering through and Chris is never alone.

Doctor Elgin came in today to check on Chris. Some of the nurses mentioned today would be a release day, but Elgin tells Chris that "he's not going anywhere." Chris is relieved because he feels he still needs the constant help at this point. 

Today we wait for the results of the biopsy. It will reveal some answers, but it is clear that in any event, Chris will remain in the ICU until he feels he is ready to move.

We have no knowledge of when the biopsy results will be available. For now we wait. 

 

Sunday September 18th

The day after surgery, Chris was in good spirits and little pain. Now, however, the toll of the surgery is now making things more difficult. He is experiencing more discomfort and more restlessness. Sleep is difficult, and he is feeling more lethargic. He is still coherent and smiling.

At the worst, Chris' bilirubin (the yellow compound created in the liver) count was 17.5 (25 is the max toxicity the body can handle). Today he was told his bilirubin is at 15. Great news!

Chris is still welcoming guests. It would be a great idea to visit and come prepared with stories since he is more able to listen than to share. Thank you for your support.

 

Thursday September 15th

REWIND:
For weeks Chris had been excited at work, explaining that he had been losing weight and was happy to be down to a weight he hadn’t been in years: “Down to 2_ _! He would say. When we asked how he was losing it, he simply said “You know, I just don’t have much of an appetite.” Knowing our father, we found that to be a bit fishy. To have Chris “not feel like” finishing his meal, came with a lot of questions— but we were relishing in his success. He was indeed losing weight, but he was also noticing diminished energy levels.

FFW:
Surgery is scheduled for noon but does not get started until close to 2. The incredible team of doctors has put their best effort forward in devising a plan. There is high risk along with a very complicated surgery.

Everyone waits anxiously.

6pm, Doctor Elgin Arrives

He is finished with the procedure with both good and bad news: they were able to place 2 stents on his right bile duct which would at least buy some time. 70% of Chris’ liver has already been compromised by the cancer. Many more masses have been found, and biopsies were taken for further research. Although it is clear malignancy is present, no definitive diagnosis can be given yet.

Chris is in recovery before more steps can be taken. He is in great spirits and is in very little pain.

Chris is celebrating his incredible life and is open for visitors this weekend. To schedule a visit please call or text Amelia at 414-336-1270

Wednesday September 14th

Chris goes to see Dr. Drew Elgin, an esteemed surgeon in his field. Chris is scheduled for a Cat scan right away.

The Cat scan reveals something much bigger than expected— an orange-sized mass on Chris’ liver, which is severely inhibiting liver function and consequently poisoning his body. Doctors drop what they were doing to clear the way for some serious problem solving. There was a clear sense of urgency, based on the functionality of the liver. Chris is scheduled for surgery the following day. Without the surgery, the liver could completely shut down within a matter of a week.

Dr. Drew Elgin was frank. From the size of the mass, and the fast-paced deterioration of the liver— all signs pointed to malignant behavior.

First thing’s first, though. Get the liver working.

The plan: unblock the bile ducts and drain the liver. Stents are scheduled to be placed with a scope, but with a plan B to place them externally. The procedure itself is risky. It is uncertain it will even be successful, but it’s the only option.

Throughout the day Chris is greeted with the ENTIRE medical team, who all come in to introduce themselves and explain their role in the procedure. He is also surrounded by his entire immediate family.

Chris is impressed by the caliber of the team and feels he is in good hands.

Tuesday September 13th

(( Chris gets poked and prodded. ))

There is a liver blockage causing the discoloration of the skin. Dr Lewis makes arrangements to find the best surgeon for the job.

Monday September 12th

A couple of employees notice Chris is looking a bit different. Though his behavior has not changed as he is getting down to business on a Monday morning, his skin looks a bit jaundiced. Chris has been dealing with some complications in heart health within the last couple of years, and is taking several medications at the time; it is assumed that his body is not responding well to the drugs, therefore turning him jaundiced. The best thing to do, is get it checked out. Chris goes to Dr. Gary Lewis for some blood work.