Brian Lee Gaukel

Brian, age 59, of Holt, MI, passed away April 5, 2021. He was born on November 24, 1961 to Jack and Joan Gaukel, in Lansing, MI, where he was raised with his brother, Barry, on Weger Place. He spent his childhood going on many excursions with his family throughout the country capturing many memories that lasted a lifetime. Growing up on Weger Place, he made many lifetime friends who he remained close to his entire life.

Brian pursued a career with the Lansing Fire Department, following in his father’s footsteps, and went on to obtain his paramedic license in 1984. Brian touched countless lives throughout his career. He worked his way up to fire marshal, retiring in 2008 after 25 years of service. He later inspired his son Adam to follow in his footsteps to become a firefighter/paramedic with the Lansing Fire Department.

Brian met the love of his life, Gena (Renz), while he was going though the paramedic program at Lansing Community College. They would marry and start a family, having three beautiful boys. Brian and Gena loved their time together, whether it was traveling, being with their family and friends, or working outside with the Kubota, which Brian bought for Gena’s birthday. He loved spending time with his boys. He coached then in hockey, took many fishing trips, and loved attending the monster truck shows with his son Alex. He spent many summers with his family at Houghton Lake, traveling to Disney World, and vacationing in the Bahamas, making many memories that they will treasure for always and forever. He was a hero and inspiration to his three boys.

Brian enjoyed late nights at the rink, playing hockey for over three decades. Playing goalie, he became a staple in front of the net while blocking many shots, although allowing one or two to slip by. He looked forward to ski trips out west every winter. He loved the feeling of freedom up high on the mountains and enjoyed taking in the beauty with his friends and son Austin.

Brian, known to his Cedarville Crew as “Papa G,” would attend Duck Camp each fall, celebrating their 33rd year in 2020. Brian looked forward to the trip every year. The many memories and stories will remain instilled in their hearts.

Brian was an idol to his son Adam, who started a family of his own, with his wife Allison. It was one of Brian’s proudest moments, finding out that he would become a grandpa to Blake and Shane, who fondly referred to him as “Packa.” He loved playing with them outside while catching them as they went down the slides, watching them ride their bikes, driving in their Hot Wheel Gator, and walking down to the pond and feeding the fish. He loved and cherished his grandchildren, and was so proud to be their Packa.

You will forever be “our” always and remain in “our” hearts.

Brian is survived by his mother, Joan; his wife of 26 years, Gena; children, Adam (Allison), Austin (Kelly Kuzara), and Alex (Kaylee Zeerip); grandchildren, Blake and Shane; brother, Barry (Lori) Gaukel; mother-in-law, Judy Renz; and cousin, Patsy Williams. Brian was preceded in death by his father, Jack Gaukel.

Visitation will be held on Monday, April 12, 2021, from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m., at the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel, with a memorial service to follow immediately after, at 2:00 p.m. There will be a live stream of the service. You can view the service remotely by following this link: Live Stream

In lieu flowers, the family has asked that people make a contribution to The National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

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26 Messages to “Brian Lee Gaukel

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Douglas S. Palmer
April 7, 2021 at 11:05 pm

I’m deeply saddened for family and friends of Brian. I’m one of the owners of Mercy Ambulance, however he left us to go to Lansing Fire about the time I was just becoming a EMT. I remember seeing the handsome and shy man with a great since of humor. I really enjoyed Brian and his father on a fly in fishing trip in Canada! I have several pictures that I often view of the trip. Once again from Mercy Ambulance and the Palmer family we offer our deepest condolences and certainly we respected and appreciate the time he worked for us.

With Love and Prayers
Douglas S. Palmer, owner and friend

Jeff Rutter
April 8, 2021 at 4:18 pm

We’re heartbroken to hear of Brian’s passing. Hugs and prayers to Gena and her family.

April 8, 2021 at 6:33 pm

My heart hurts for his family as well as everyone else at LFD. It is incredibly painful to lose someone way too soon. I served as Lansing chief from 1996-2006 and had the pleasure of working with Brian. I always appreciated his work ethic, his competence and his sense of humor. My deepest sympathy to the family.

Interim LFD Chief Greg “G.K.” Martin

Tim Moede
April 8, 2021 at 6:44 pm

Sorry to hear about Brian. Condolences to the family. He was a good man and I enjoyed working with him at LFD.

Rick Houghton
April 8, 2021 at 7:23 pm

Brian had a good attitude and an ready smile. I remember his friendly demeanor. He was a good man.

Becky Rios
April 8, 2021 at 7:25 pm

My deepest condolences to the family, Brian was my brother’s best friend Arnie and when he came to south Texas he was like family. He was very nice and respectable to my parents and family. He loved speaking about his kids and wife. Brian was just a very sincere and nice guy and I’m very sadden about his death. He touched so many life’s . My prayers to his family and all those who loved him.
Rebeca Rios
Brownsville, Texas

David Costa
April 8, 2021 at 7:37 pm

It has been four days and I still cannot believe this news is true.

We had almost 45 years together and it was not enough.

I was proud to tell everyone that you were my best friend. I will continue to wear that as a badge of honor. Though I loved you more than words could express, I’m pleased that I never stopped trying even to point of making you cringe.

Perhaps the best way to sum up how much we meant to each other is to reflect on the fact that I have had the pleasure of visiting all 49 contiguous states. It is truly astonishing that you were by my side for half of those visits. No two people have spent more time in a car together. I was only half way through, through travelling with you. And it breaks my heart that you were not only half way through too. I teach my kids and others the rules of the roads we developed: never eat in chain restaurants; enjoy being lost in good company; and when you have gone too far down the wrong road and you know you need to turn back you must not do it in the valley, you have to drive to the next high point to see what is just over that hill or mountain in front of you.

God’s galaxy of stars will have to be our next journey of road trips. Until then, you will be with me in my heart for the balance of my earthly journey but I know that we will ride again.

There will be light after dark, some day when we aren’t six feet apart.

Rest easy my brother.

Paul France
April 8, 2021 at 7:50 pm

Our deepest sympathy to Gena and all of Brian’s family. Growing up next door to Brian and being a “Weger Place kid”, I have many fond memories of him, as well as later in life and time spent in Northern Michigan. He was a good guy and will be missed. You’re all in our thoughts and prayers.
Paul and Shelli France and family

William Karnes
April 8, 2021 at 8:36 pm

My heart goes out to the family and all of the friends Brian had. I worked with Brian for many years at LFD. He was one of the good guys that you could count on when you needed him. I will always remember his genuine smile and his dedication to the job.

Rest In Peace my Friend,

William Karnes.

Katie McPherson
April 8, 2021 at 9:05 pm

I’m so sorry for your loss. Brian helped save my partner’s life. I will forever be grateful for him. Sending our deepest condolences.

Holly Richardson
April 9, 2021 at 7:20 am

My heart goes out to Brian’s family and friends for this tremendous loss. I haven’t seen Brian in years but I will always remember Brian’s smile and the great memories I hold dear to me of our younger years in life. Rest in peace Brian, you will be missed by many.

Larry Puffenberger
April 9, 2021 at 9:06 am

Our prayers go out to Gina, Adam, Austin, Alex and the family. Our hearts are so saddened loosing such a dear friend, there are no words. I met Brian working at Lansing Mercy Ambulance in the early 80’s. It was an instant bond between a mechanic and EMT. We had great adventures cruising the Dunes at Silver Lake, trips to Florida, Vegas and Canadian flyin. I mostly will miss your friendship, our talks and being part of our lives. You were one of my dearest friends, you are our sons namesake. You were a man of character, kind hearted, man of integrity and our son is honored to be named after you. He loved his Uncle Brian, I loved you like a brother. My wife Terri and I are blessed to have you in our lives. Proud to call you friend. You will forever be in our hearts, in our memories and we will cherish you forever. Love you forever ! Larry, Terri and Brian Puffenberger

Roger & Chris Cheney
April 9, 2021 at 10:09 am

So, so sorry for your (and all our) loss of Brian. He was such a great, caring parent & all around highly respected good guy. Our best memories are from our son Alex’s & Adam’s Holt H. S. hockey team. We were invoved parents with the Hockey Boosters & later as one of our Senior Hockey League goalies. I’m sure “Frog” & the rest of our group would all agree! Brian, you will be missed!!

Troy France
April 9, 2021 at 10:33 am

Although my heart is so heavy, as so many others must be. I have been finding myself reflecting on so many great memories with my lifelong friend Brian Gaukel.
I would like to keep this short, but that isn’t happening. So make yourself comfortable.

How fortunate to, ” by choice “, continue such a close friendship throughout our entire lifetime.
A friendship that started back when diaper pins we’re stabbing us in the ass.
All that growing… All that learning… The shared property line in the greatest neighborhood that anyone could have ever been a part of. Which none of us ever took for granted. We backed each other when being picked on by the big kids on the block. (Barry and others ). Ha. Then later we picked on the little kids. Terrible, I know.
We learned to swim, played every sport and game that there was to play. Not that we were any good. However, you gave it everything you had in that neighborhood. We had our first jobs together. Paper routes, which started with us as well as the rest of our neighbor buddies over-running the Rivet place, our substation, to gather our news papers then head out to deliver them. We had our first beers together. Warm beer, stashed in the WILS field in the summer. Duh???
As the years went by we always found reasons to get together. Every year, throughout every year. Trips and excursions of all types. Way too many to cover.
Even after we had both married up. Our wonderful wives became wonderful friends. Hmm, I guess Brian and I set a good example. Strange, he and I had never been accused of anything like that before. We brought our families together on several occasions, meeting up with our friends, camping and fishing on many Waters both in Northern Michigan, as well as Canada. We chased muskies off ” Lefty’s Weedbed” on the Black River, and much more.

Most of all… We shared the most incredible groups of friends. I can surely say any friend of Brian Gaukel is a friend of mine. From those I have known forever, to those I had since met in the later years.
If a man can be judged by the company that he keeps as well as the love of his family. This man shines…
Great man, great son, great brother, great husband, great father, and of course, great friend… My life long friend.
How fortunate we all have been to be a part of his life, and he being a part of ours.
Troy France

Phil Sabon
April 9, 2021 at 11:08 am

Our hearts go our to Brian’s family. Brain truly had good values which was demonstrated throughout his life. I worked with Brian for many years at LFD and as others have stated he truly was a person that you could count on. I will miss his dedication, friendship, and humor. We will miss you, may you rest in peace.

Lori Carpenter Smith
April 9, 2021 at 11:59 am

It was with great sadness to hear of Brian’s passing and yet another LFD brother. Such a great guy all Around. He was a great friend and hunting buddy of my late husband. He supported him through his illness and beyond. I know the grief seems insurmountable at this time. Rely on the support of your families and the LFD family. Their love and great support will help you through.

Frank & Jennifer Cannarile
April 9, 2021 at 1:42 pm

As a life long friend of Brian’s,my heart breaks to know that part of the Weger place gang is gone.Brian & I had a funny childhood together.We would do things together that others would later say we were crazy,like riding our 10 speeds to the Meridian mall in okemos when we lived near Everett high school.That was quite the jaunt for two 12 year olds..Brian was always out for an adventure even back in those days.Brian also was the first person to turn me into Van Halen.Brian had the top of the line stereo in his bedroom and one day he said “you need to hear this song by Van Halen.The song was called “eruption” and it has a part where it will literally scare the crap out of you.Brian got a kick out of seeing me scream…also Brian & his brother Barry always had the best matchbox see even though Brian’s & my life went separate ways after high school whenever we would see each other it was a connection of like no other.He will always be a part of the “Weger gang” and I am beyond proud to have grown up with Brian….My heart aches for his wife Gena & his three sons,Barry & his mom Joan…..Love ya Brian & may God bless you in his house…

Jeff and Tracey Zeerip
April 9, 2021 at 3:50 pm

Alex, Kaylee and the entire Gaukel Family. We are so very sorry for.your loss. You will all be in our prayers.

Pat and Connie Wieferich
April 9, 2021 at 5:16 pm

Gena, Our hearts are heavy. We are praying and thinking of you and your family. Brian will be missed by many. He was such a kind-hearted man, with a gentle way about him and an infectious smile.

Steve and Nancy Kuzara
April 9, 2021 at 8:00 pm

To the entire Gaukel family, there are no words to express how sorry we are for your loss. We are sending you so much love and you are all in our thoughts and prayers!

Marvin Helmker
April 9, 2021 at 9:07 pm

Like several others who have expressed their sympathy, I worked with Brian for many years at LFD, having hired in with Barry just a year or two before Brian. Throughout his career, Brian was a guy who showed up for work, did his job, got along with those in the firehouse family, and served the citizens of Lansing well . My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Gaukel family as you grieve your tremendous loss.

Marv Helmker

Matt & Pam Jenkins
April 9, 2021 at 9:21 pm

We cannot express how heartbroken we are for the Gaukel family at the passing of Brian. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. Gods speed Brian.

Todd Kletke
April 10, 2021 at 7:38 am

As I start my prayers for Gina and the boys it saddens me how this empty spot in my heart feels. Then I reflect back on why it’s such a big empty spot. Brian always lived life to the fullest and I was lucky enough to go along for multiple road trips a year. Houghton Lake,Mullet lake ,Higgins Lake, and of course the U. P. Duck camp where we watched the Spartans block Michigan’s punt to win the game. ( Go Green!) So many great memories that drive the sadness right out of my heart Thanks Bro Love you TK

Jackie Royale
April 10, 2021 at 2:44 pm

That was beautiful, Troy!

Jamie Wyman
April 10, 2021 at 8:53 pm

Gena, I am so sorry for your loss. I pray for strength and peace in these upcoming hours, days, and weeks. Brian was a great guy with a contagious smile. I’m so thankful that i got the opportunity to meet him. I will forever cherish the memories. Hugs to you and your family.

Joann Sauceda
April 10, 2021 at 10:00 pm

Sauceda/Mata Family are heartbroken for a Good Men has left, It was a Privileged -and Honor to have had as a neighbor Brian through the years – Always friendly. I remember my grandkids when 5-7 yrs old /the older hit his little brother, Brian corrected him right there- he shown concern and he corrected him – That touch me/ My grandkids looked up to him even now at 17-19 yrs, Letting my Sons/grandkids fish on his pond- Taking your walk with Gina-Pepe was a daily view. I had a dilemma with our pond and driveway/ In prayer (this was between the LORD and I) I ask the Lord for his help /2-3 months past and Brian makes a statement we are going to fix that – thought nothing of it- 1- month later Saturday morning he comes over and tells Dave we can fix that let’s do it/ Dave comes asked for money and he takes off to purchase the material needed for this big problem – and it was DONE // ONLY BRIAN knew how. When snow Storms hit-Brian plowed us out w/his big tractor- these are just some of many-times Brian touched our lives..My heart aches for Gina-Pepe and his Mom and his Sons – My Prayers will be with ALL of them. BRIAN WILL ALWAYS BE IN OUR HEARTS:: Gone but NEVER Forgotten.


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