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To the memory of an old Pontiac friend

Mike Nixon and his son.
Mike Nixon and his son.
Picture courtesy of Don Keefe

My friend Don Keefe, editor of the Pontiac-Oakland Club International Smoke Signals magazine, recently went to visit an old friend in the Pontiac hobby. Through his effort and through Tom DeMauro at Hemmings, they have roused the support of hobbyists in helping a fellow Pontiac enthusiast who is dying of cancer. Here are his words:

This is what his GTO will look like when it's finished.
Picture courtesy of Don Keefe.

t was one of those moments that you always remember and wished never happened. I was having a late dinner on Friday, March 14th, with my girlfriend Ann at our local hangout. Just as were finishing up, a “bling” tone rang out from my phone- someone had messaged me through Facebook. I looked at it and covered my mouth in horror. One of my closest friends in the Pontiac hobby, Indiana native Mike Nixon, was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer and was given between two to six weeks. This was an especially bitter pill to swallow, as Mike is only 47 years old and has three sons, a 19 year-old with special needs and twin 10 year-olds.

To say that Mike Nixon is a pillar of the Pontiac hobby would be an understatement. As well as being a POCI Director since 2009, he is also the POCI Tech Advisor Coordinator and a contributor to POCI's Smoke Signals Magazine. Mike has emerged as one of the Pontiac world's main “Go-to-Guys” for traditional Pontiac V-8 fans and the cars that they powered. In addition to his duties serving POCI, Mike has also spent the last 17 years as a moderator on the Performance Years message board, policing that sometimes rowdy portion of the Internet.

Jumping onto Facebook Messenger, a private message discussion was already in progress with several of his friends, some of whom were local and had spoken to him. I learned that Mike was leaving the hospital the next morning, and that home hospice care was being arranged. Hearing that word, hospice, clearly put the whole thing in perspective- there was nothing more that could be done for him, besides making his remaining days as comfortable and pleasant as possible.

Knowing that Mike wanted to see his friends one more time, this Facebook group quickly set up a schedule so we could all see him without taxing him too much physically. He was very concerned about his finances- as a self-employed single proprietor, he had no income if he wasn't working and didn't want his family to be overwhelmed about money, especially funeral costs. We set up a PayPal account where donations could be quickly and easily collected and then helped spread the word on several message boards, as well as the dozens of Facebook pages that Mike frequents.

I made the drive out from Fairport, New York, a suburb of Rochester in my 1966 Tempest Custom four-door hardtop. While some may find an 1,100-mile round trip in a nearly half-century old car to be a bit on the risky side, the little Pontiac performed flawlessly. In fact, this isn't even the longest trip I have driven in my Pontiac- it has been to St. Charles, Illinois last year and will likely make a repeat performance.

I was joined by three fellow PY message board members. Brian Baker drove from Maryland to meet up Scott Misus in Philadelphia and the pair drove together in Scott's Escalade. Meanwhile, Matt Planning, made the trip in “Ramblin' Rose,” his six-cylinder powered, Sunfire Red, '64 Tempest Custom four-door sedan. We all met at Buffalo Wings and Rings in Portland, Indiana for lunch before making it over to Mike's.

Once we got over to the Nixon farm about ten miles away, we met with Mike, his fiance' Chris Kennedy and her daughters, as well as several of Mike's family and friends, including his best friend, Troy Emery and his wife Jennifer, as well as PY members Tom and Amy Richcreek. At 6:00 pm, we witnessed Mike and Chris' wedding, which was performed in his home by the Reverend Mike Harris. There was nary a dry eye in the house.

After a couple more hours of celebrating, we all returned to our respective hotel rooms and retired. I was on the road early Sunday morning for a speedy trip back to Fairport. The Tempest performed admirably and as I drove home, I though a lot about Mike and his courage and strength, as well as the sense of peace and happiness that he is bringing to his remaining days- inspirational to say the least.

Mike has touched the Pontiac hobby in a big way and the Pontiac hobby is giving back to him. Paul Freese and his staff at Fast Automotive in Batesville, Indiana are restoring Mike's '65 GTO hardtop so it can be auctioned off and 100% of the proceeds will benefit his family.

Please donate to the Mike Nixon Family Fund by logging into www.paypal.com and after clicking on the “Send Money” button, type in MikeNixonFamilyFund@gmail.com with your donation amount. We thank you in advance for your generosity.

Mike Nixon passed away April 2, 2014.