October 25, 1916 - September 22, 2002
Walfred Victor Mike Mickelson, 85, of 208 Judy Street, Harvey, formerly of Munising, passed from this life on earth Sunday, September 22, 2002 of natural causes at his home.
Mike was born in Ishpeming, Michigan on October 25, 1916 to Victor and Johanna (Mattson) Mickelson. He resided on a farm in Eben Junction, Michigan and attended school in Eben until his graduation from high school in 1936. While in high school, Mike was a stand out athlete in basketball and track and field. In track and field, Mike was a three-year, four-event winner. His high and low hurdle and broad jump records still stand today.
After high school, Mike enlisted in the Michigan National Guard in October of 1939 and was assigned to Company D, 107th Engineers Battalion in Marquette. Simultaneously, Mike attended Northern Normal School from 1938 1940 and was active and excelled in football, basketball and track. His college time was cut short when the 107th Engineer Battalion was activated for federal service for World War II in October of 1940.
Mike remained with the 107th Engineer Battalion until September of 1942. While attending Officer Candidate School Mike was hand picked and asked to join an elite combat regiment, The First Special Service or more commonly known as the Black Devils Brigade in September of 1942.
On a 72-hour furlough, Mike met his high school sweetheart and life long mate, Martha Helen (Seppi) Mickelson in Chicago, Illinois and were married on September 21, 1942. Mike then left for the war.
Mike was a platoon leader in the 5th Company Second Regiment, 1st Special Service Force and first participated in the invasion of the Aleutian Islands. The 1st Special Service Force then participated in combat campaigns of North Africa, Rome, Arno and Naples, Italy. He earned numerous awards for bravery and heroism and was seriously wounded three times. These wounds ended Mikes athletic career and were a heavy burden for him both physically and mentally the remainder of his life.
Upon receiving a medical discharge from active duty, Mike returned to Northern Normal School in 1945 and obtained a teaching degree in Industrial Education in 1946. He then started teaching and coaching in the Eben School System from 1946 1952. The track and field and basketball teams he coached won 53 trophies that ranged from meet, conference, region and U.P. state titles. These achievements he was most proud of.
While at Eben, Mike worked tirelessly to generate enough funds for Eben to build a gymnasium. He raffled cars, guns, furniture and hosted numerous barbecues to finally meet his fund raising goal in 1950. The gymnasium still stands today.
In 1952, Mike accepted a teaching position in the Munising School System as once again a teacher and coach in track, cross-country and basketball until his retirement. His teams continued to win Mather High School over 75 trophies in basketball (ranging from meet, conference, region and U.P. state titles), cross-country and track. Mike retired in June of 1976 ending his 31-year teaching and coaching career.
While at Munising, Mike was once again recognized for his tireless efforts in fund raising when sufficient funds were generated to build the new (Nebel Memorial Field complex) all weather track and new turf on the football field, the additional pits, hurdles and standards needed to outfit a fully functional facility in 1976.
After Mike retired, he remained extremely active in Munising sports and the Munising School System and the U.P. as a whole. He taught adult community education until 1984. Mike was official timekeeper, official referee and starter of every regular varsity football, cross-country, track and basketball contest held in Munising. From 1984 1994, Mike started and officiated at every Munising High School track and field event as well.
From 1977 1994 Mike was head field judge for the U.P. track and field championships. At the end of the 1994 U.P. finals, Mike was recognized by his peers for his selfless dedication to high school athletics as a whole. He was also presented a 55 year referee award from the Michigan High School Athletic Association for his remarkable officiating career.
Mikes true loves were first, his wife and family, his God, high school and college sports, Brook Trout fishing, wood working and gardening. He was an absolute defender of what this country is all about, a searcher of the hidden goodness that lies in all of us, and his unique style of projecting the positive of what any person can achieve with dedication and hard work. Just ask anyone with a smile and handshake, Mike became your life long friend. Being your friend and his willingness to help you no matter what, meant everything to Mike.
Mikes other achievements included induction into the Northern Michigan University Sports Hall of Fame in 1980, nominated yet never inducted into the U.P. Sports Hall of Fame, life long member of the VFW, a Masonic Temple member for 50 plus years, NMU Alumni Association, and member of the Disabled American Veterans Association. Lastly, no one may know it, but secretly Mike was Northern Michigan Universitys sports biggest fan. Till the day he died, you could ask Mike the status of any NMU sport. He knew names, stats and win/loss record. He particularly enjoyed Northern Michigan Hockey over the other sports even though he never played it.
In lieu of everything Mike had pursued in life, he leaves us with a legacy of love, self-sacrifice, dedication and personal/professional achievement that we should all envy. Mike touched the lives of thousands of students and he had hundreds of friends. This man is a classic example of our Greatest Generation. Without hesitation, he would sacrifice himself to the common good of man.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Martha H. Mardy Mickelson of Harvey; three children, Donald (Catherine) Mickelson of Munising, Darla (Rod) Bezanson of Ft. Myers, FL and Dwight (Maria) Mickelson of Mason, MI; five grandchildren, Daniel Mickelson, Shandra (Daven) Halford, Natalee and Dana Mickelson, and Kyle Bezanson; one great grandchild, Jasmine Halford who was born the day Mike died; one sister, Linnea Benson of Eben Junction; one brother Arnold (Mary) Mickelson of Ann Arbor; also several nieces and nephews. Preceding him in death besides his parents was a sister, Irene.
Funeral services will be conducted Thursday at 11 a.m. in Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Harvey with the Rev. Chrys Levesque officiating. Friends may call at the Canale-Tonella Funeral Home from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and also one hour prior to services Thursday at the church. Interment will take place in Pine Grove Cemetery, Chatham.
Pallbearers will be Donald, Dwight and Daniel Mickelson, Dennis Smith, Steve Owens and Paul Hein.
Those wishing to make an expression of sympathy are kindly asked to consider the Scott William Mickelson Scholarship Fund at Kingsford High School c/o Canale-Tonella Funeral Home, 526 N. Third St., Marquette, MI 49855.
Thanks Dad for your love, generosity and support. You have no idea how much we will miss you. And yes, you will remain our hero and in our hearts forever. Dad, may God hold you in His hand forever, but not hold you too tight!