Friends of John Michael "Hogie" Hogan are continuing fundraising efforts to pay Hogan's medical bills.
The fund now also will help pay burial expenses for Hogan, 43, of Lee Street in Thomson, who died May 26 at University Hospital in Augusta after a short battle with liver cancer.
"We actually thought we had some time and we were going to be able to fight this thing, but it was too aggressive," said Scott Williams, Hogan's cousin. He said Hogan had been associated with the family business, Williams Sewer and Drain in Thomson, for more than 10 years.
Hogan was also a former part owner of Hogie Joe's Sports Grill. Restaurant owners Amy and Joey Kiel said the downtown business will continue to reflect their former business partner's name.
On Friday, the night of Hogan's visitation at Beggs Funeral Home, a bar stool at 128 Railroad St. was still reserved for its best-known occupant. The setting was covered with an empty bottle, ChapStick, a packet of the Goody's Powder headache medicine that Hogan preferred and a pair of Hogan's reading glasses.
"He always had three or four pair of reading glasses around," Joey Kiel said.
"Mike knew everyone, loved everyone and there wasn't anything he wouldn't have done for you," Kiel said.
Friends and family gathered even before the formal visitation. Williams talked with The McDuffie Mirror and passed the phone to Hogan's friend Brad Ansley and then to Love Hogan, who said she was Mike Hogan's life mate for 17 years. She said they remained together despite their divorce. "He really was my very best friend," she said.
Ansley said Hogan's cancer battle began early this year. "He started feeling bad two or three months ago. April 22 is when I got the phone call," Ansley said.
Damon Davis, another friend of Hogan's, said two fundraisers will go on as planned. One, a golf outing, is booked solid.
Tickets are available, however, for a chicken dinner from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at The Depot Annex. The $7.50 meal includes a barbecued chicken half, potato salad, baked beans, bread and dessert. Tickets can be bought in advance by calling Davis at (706) 833-5829. Tickets are also available at the Chamber of Commerce office and at Queensborough Bank.
Williams said he and his cousin enjoyed riding 4-wheelers and other outdoor activities. "I like to water ski, and he was the best boat driver I ever knew," Williams said. "We've always had Jeeps and played in the mud. He was all about a cookout and enjoyed his friends and cooking out. There couldn't have been a closer friend or a better fellow."
Williams said friends had been trying to raise money for Hogan.
"I've been on a fairly aggressive campaign to collect money," he said. "He didn't have any insurance, and he was self-employed."
Love Hogan said she and Mike met when they were in high school and she worked at a family-owned jewelry store. She said he kept coming into the store to buy wedding gifts for friends.
"He would come in here and buy a watch, and he would ask me out for a couple of months, and my momma said, 'Why don't you go out with him?' "
"He was the love of my life," she said.