Former football standout now tackling life without leg

Doug Boock
Mike and Deb Tarleton share a lighter moment together. A benefit will be held for the Galva couple Sunday to help defray medical expenses they’ve incurred

It had been a long haul for Mike Tarleton.

One of the legs that once carried him up and down area football fields - where he was a fierce ballcarrier for Galva High School in the late 1960s - had given him fits for 35 years.

And things were getting worse. Leg infections threatened to damage his vital organs - not a good prospect at any age, much less a relatively young 57, as Tarleton is.

So, Tarleton, who once attended Northwestern University to play college football, on April 2 did what he felt was best: He had his right leg amputated, above the knee. Now he’s adjusting to life as an amputee.

“It’s slowed him down considerably,” said Deb Tarleton, his wife of 32 years. “He’s not  working at this time, until he can get a prosthesis. But he’s been very innovative at adapting.”

Meanwhile, medical bills have mounted. That’s been compounded by medical costs incurred by a stroke Deb suffered in August 2006, not long after she lost a full-time job and health benefits. She works part-time at home now, providing composition work for the Galva News and sister newspapers in Geneseo, Cambridge and Orion. But health insurance is still lacking.

Friends are planning to help the Tarletons defray medical costs by hosting a benefit in their honor Sunday, June 28 at Mary’s Family Dining and Lounge in Galva. Held from noon until a non-designated time, the event will include food - including JD Ryan’s Ribs, pulled pork sandwiches and more - and a huge auction of gift certificates,  Bob Evans Farms meat, sports memorabilia, game tickets and much more. Deejay Shelley Kinzer will play music from noon to 2 p.m. Galva teen band Motorbiscuit will perform from 5 to 7 p.m.

The meal costs $5 ($3 if sandwich only). The auction, which starts at 3 p.m., is loaded with items donated by friends and associates. It’s touching to Tarleton, a Bishop Hill native, and his wife, a life-long Galva resident.

“With the economic situation and the amount of benefits in the area, we are very touched and grateful for people’s generosity,” Mike said.

For more of this story, see the June 25 Galva News.