Thursday, June 04, 2009

Remembering Mike Pugh

My friend Mike Pugh passed away last week at age 56. I'll miss him greatly.

I first met Mike on a gig years ago with The Sensations. He subbed for our regular keyboard player and instantly became one of my favorite people. He was a fine musician, businessman, and a very funny and clever individual.

On that first night we met, he told me about his passion for amateur radio (KA4MKG). The energy and excitement in his voice when telling me stories about the fun he experienced with amateur radio peaked my interest in the subject. I called him a few days later to find out how I could become a ham. He supplied me with support and the information needed to study and pass the Federal Communications Commission exam for amateur radio licensing.

I took my exam about a month later in Northern Kentucky. It was graded immediately afterwards. I remember the thrill I experienced when learning that I had successfully passed the test. The first person I called with the good news was Mike. He congratulated me and offered to drive to R & L Electronics in Hamilton, Ohio, that weekend to help me pick out a radio.

Mike and I also played music together as a duo or in a trio setting. Though we did not play together as much as we would have liked (for years he played every weekend as part of the Kentucky Jamboree and I played my solo restaurant gigs), we surely enjoyed the times we were able to play together. One of the fun gigs we played was the annual Kentucky Derby breakfast at Shirley Cunningham's home in Georgetown, KY. Vocalist Kyle Fugate joined us that day to perform for a large crowd. Mike had heard Kyle sing at the Kentucky Jamboree during an open microphone night, liked her voice, and asked her to join us for the Derby gig. Former UK Coach Tubby Smith was in attendance and told us how much he enjoyed the music. I know that Mike appreciated the compliment as much as Kyle and I did.

One of the things Mike liked best was getting friends together. Many weekday mornings he would talk about lunch plans in his ham radio transmissions. There were times when five or ten hams would hear the conversation and show up at the restaurant mentioned. Though I wasn't able to join the lunch group as much as I would have liked, it sure was fun when I did. Mike had a great sense of humor, and decided to help form a club made up of the folks meeting for lunch. He named the club "Fayette Amateur Radio Transmitting Society", also known as "FARTS".

I joined with several of Mike's musician friends tonight and played at the memorial service. It was a beautiful service that allowed everyone to remember the exceptional life of Mike. People shared humorous and engaging stories about their experiences with him.

I'll miss talking with Mike on the radio. I'll miss playing music with him. I'll miss seeing him at lunch meetings. Mike was a great person and everyone who knew him was touched by his kindness and friendship. He is survived by his wonderful wife Jeanie (KB8QLC).


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