Outspoken Biker, Bar Owner Dies

Mike Norman, a biker and the owner of Mulligan's, was famous for his controversial marquee messages. What is less well-known is that Norman hosted charity events to help the needy.

By Poncho Wilson

Mike Norman of Marietta mixed a stiff drink, and he didn’t mince words. As owner of on Roswell Street, Norman’s gruff, imposing exterior coupled with an affinity for motorcycles, biker culture and his longtime ties to Marietta’s American Legion Horace Orr Post 29 made him a natural fit for the scene.

“Mike spoke what other people whispered,” said longtime friend Jeff “Cowboy” Garland of Marietta, whose nickname derived from Norman’s observations that when Garland wasn’t riding into Mulligan’s on his 2001 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide, he was instead wearing his trademark cowboy hat.

Mike Norman, 66, of Marietta, formerly of Sutallee and a Clinton, TN, native, died Friday of complications from lung cancer. A funeral service will be held Monday at on Canton Highway in Northeast Cobb at 2 p.m.

Behind Norman’s shaved pate and gray goatee that hung no less than 6 inches below his chin was an unwavering impetus to help others in need.

Norman’s bar is one of a very few in greater Marietta that regularly hosts charity motorcycle rides to raise money for the sick and needy and underprivileged children.

On any given Sunday a phalanx of motorcycles and riders can be seen filling Mulligan’s parking lot and spilling out onto the adjacent U-Haul property before they thunder down Roswell Road eastbound in tandem toward Cobb Parkway.

Norman’s eldest daughter, Kelleye Norman Greene of Hickory Flat, recalled her father as deeply loyal and endlessly attentive to both her and her younger sister, Brandi Nabors of Acworth. Norman and his wife, Dee, raised them in the expansive countryside of Sutallee in northwest Georgia.

Norman’s passion for helping others was equaled only in fervor to the sociopolitical opinions he unapologetically and often blatantly espoused in black plastic channel letters on the bar’s street side marquee that stands vigil over tidy rows of cornstalks. 

Norman routinely bucked the system in true biker fashion with colorful and often controversial sign posts about illegal immigration and political demagoguery in an area that’s seen a large influx of Hispanic-owned businesses and residents.

Ironically, the bar itself was at one time a Taco Bell restaurant.

But illegal immigration and undocumented workers, no matter if they were from Mexico or Munich, were topics Norman regularly focused his highly visible and sometimes volatile public opinions upon.

It was Norman’s consensus that undocumented workers often compete for and beat out native citizens for dwindling blue collar jobs that most of Mulligan's clientele hold and depend upon to make a living, said Norman’s daughter Kelleye Norman Greene.  

And day laborers or rogue contractors who hire them often work for a fraction of what traditional tax-declaring workers charge because the miscreants take cash under the table and then don't report the income, she added.

So the sign out front of Mulligan’s has become a sounding board of sorts for working class Americans—more specifically those in Norman’s circle—who’ve grown steadily frustrated with a government that seems more concerned about defending lawsuits from human rights organizations than standing up for the rights of its own citizens, Greene said.

“A lot of people who don’t know or didn’t know my dad only saw the superficial messages in that sign,” Greene said. “He was an amazing man, and he’d give anything to anyone who asked. And he was far from racist or bigoted. He stood for hard work and what’s right is right. And he let people know about it.”

Norman in mid-2008 drew national media attention and outrage from civil rights groups, prompting picket-line-style demonstrations in front of his bar, when he offered T-shirts depicting the Curious George cartoon monkey character with the slogan "Obama In '08" emblazoned across the chest.

But no message resonated more with Mulligan’s patrons than the sign’s boilerplate “Border Patrol Eats Free.” Norman was often seen wearing a replica Border Patrol green baseball cap if for nothing else than to make a statement.

“Mike was a giver not a taker,” said longtime friend Debbie Benedit of Waleska. “He touched the hearts, souls and minds of many—an incredible human being who had a heart of gold—and I am honored to have been his friend.”

“And he had the most beautiful blue eyes that could look right through you. They were beautiful, and they told his story,” said Norman’s youngest daughter, Brandi Nabors.

“Mike was always the first one to step up and help someone,” said longtime Mulligan’s patron Joy Ashby of Smyrna, whose ridden in countless numbers of Norman’s charity rides on her 2001 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy.

“But now it’s like Mike once said, ‘Bright camp fires don’t last long enough.’ ”

mary kirkendoll October 08, 2011 at 12:59 AM
Rest in Peace, Mike Norman. You will be missed. I want to personally thank Mike's family & all the staff at Mulligans for always opening their door to the Georgia Minutemen Civil Defense Corp, allowing us to have our meetings & giving us great support (& best chili & brews)- while we were educating fellow Americans & LEGAL immigrants of the danger to our countries future that open borders & unchecked immigration would have. We desperately need Americans that are willing to speak the truth & Mike Norman 'fit the bill'! I hope his daughters will be able to carry on w/ his business & his NECESSARY marquees! Thanks & patriotic love!
Hunter Weatherford October 09, 2011 at 05:16 PM
I see lots of posts commending Mr. Norman for the charitable work he did in his community. He's also revered as a savvy business man who took advantage of the firestorms he would often start with his incendiary statements and "necessary" marquees. Here's a thought: I would argue Bin Laden's followers had the same views of him. I'm sure he did great things in his community for his people too. I'm sure he was equally regarded as a savvy business man, after all he was friends with the Bush family who often had him at the white house. And he made millions taking our tax payer dollars before he became our enemy. As for LEGAL immigrants, judging from your last name, Mrs. Kirkendoll I'd dare say you aren't Native American. In fact, your family migrated here from Scotland during the 1920's as did other Europeans like Italians, Irish, Germans and others. Your grandparents came over on a boat, dirt poor in search of better opportunities for your family too. Ask yourself, were they LEGAL? No. But now that you're here, you're settled and you've staked your claim you (in general) are so quick to throw everyone else, non-whites, back. How hypocritical. And I assume you're a Christian, but how does a Christian justify the heartless, hate laced messages of the man you defend? I agree this probably isn't the most ideal place for the debate but Mr. Norman made his bed...now he's lying in it.
sosad October 13, 2011 at 06:15 PM
whos pickled now???lol . seriously .... I read all of the comments from family and friends and truly tried to sympathize with the loss but I just cant wrap my mind around someone who had a platform to be positive and used it to spread hatred. It has definately opened my eyes to the fact that racism is alive and well in our day and age. You rednecks may get some sort of satisfaction from that but whos laughing now. You speak of all the good work he did to help the needy and underpriveleged children but what exactly does that mean? what children? certain ones ? Its just sad that the ignorance is supported with comments like"he has two long time employees who happen to be african american" . REALLY ?? REALLY? man they should have had a roast instead of a funeral. Ironically today a friend sent me a picture of this place and I googled it and found out about this place. ITS SOOO IRONIC! anyways he is with his maker now and no border exists there except the one between heaven and hell
Davis McCollum October 13, 2011 at 07:10 PM
You actually read... signed up... created a login... for that..? So sad.
Bore Head September 23, 2012 at 11:39 PM
I just saw this. I was working in Marietta for a short time, and found myself at Mulligans just about everynight after work over a two month period. The guys I worked with and myself are Yankees. We were welcomed by all, and Mike made sure we had anything we could possibly want, including a place full of the best people you could keep company with, of all persuations, and ethnicitys. I'm sad to read of Mikes passing, and have wondered many times about the man, the place and the people. This driller had a ball. Thank you, Mike, wherever you are! BH


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