Nevada City resident, devoted dad mourned after fatal crash |

Nevada City resident, devoted dad mourned after fatal crash

Gary Wallace

Gary Wallace was on hand for every game — those of his children and, in turn, his grandchildren.

“Gary was always there for everything, for everybody — he was an all-around great dad and person,” said longtime friend Gerald “Jerry” Thompson.

On Monday, his family was struggling to come to terms with the reality that their “Pops” was gone, killed in a motorcycle crash Friday.

Daughter-in-law Michelle Wallace confirmed that his services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, July 6, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 615 Hollow Way, Nevada City.

“He was the most amazing person,” she said. “He was always at every sports event — he was just that dad who was always involved in everything.”

Gary, said Michelle, was dependable to a fault. So when he didn’t return home Friday, after leaving the garage door open and his cell phone behind, they knew something was very wrong.

“Gary goes and does what he’s going to do and comes right back,” she said. “When it got dark, we knew it was not good.”

Son Ryan and granddaughter Allie had spotted Gary leaving McDonald’s on his Suzuki motorcycle around 1 p.m. that day, and thought he was heading home.

Gary’s wife, Diane, raised the alarm at about 7 p.m., spurring a widespread search by family members and friends that included the church he attended and his favorite spots along the river.

“We were panicking,” Michelle said. “Gary was a creature of habit … This was so out of his norm.”

At about midnight, after taking his family home, Ryan talked to his brother, Jason, who was en route from his Colorado home.

“Jason (told) Ryan, ‘If anyone can find him it’s you,’” Michelle said, adding, “Jason helped give Ryan the strength to find him.”

Ryan then headed back out to search some more on foot.

“He had a blanket, a pillow and some water,” Michelle said. “He was not going to rest until he found his dad. He knew in his gut he was on Lake Vera-Purdon Road.”

Ryan had a sense of where to look along the road, his wife said. He kept stopping and walking the roadside, armed with a flashlight.

Just before 1 a.m., Ryan found his dad down a steep embankment, having sustained fatal injuries when his motorcycle ran off the road.

Daughters Julie and Kelsey had driven to Nevada City as soon as they heard their Pops was missing, arriving just as Ryan was heading out to search.

“An hour later, Ryan returned and said you better come inside,” Julie wrote in a tribute to her dad.

Ryan gathered everyone and told his mom, “Sorry mom, I found Dad — he didn’t make it.”

At the news, Julie said, she fell to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably.

“I’m wracked with sadness,” she wrote of the loss of her father, whom she called unselfish, giving, and humble.

“He brought joy and love to so many,” Julie said.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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