Mike grew up in Southern California and Oregon, eventually graduating from high school in Molalla, Ore. He was a great basketball player, track sprinter, boxer and football player. Sports were his favorite part of school. In his young school days, dyslexia was undiagnosed and it made school difficult, but it never stopped him from working hard and being successful in his ventures.
On March 17, 1953, Mike was drafted into the Korean War, and attended boot camp at Fort Ord, Calif. He was honorably discharged on March 3, 1955.
In 1960, Mike met and married Sylvia Petersen, while they both lived in Ukiah, Calif. At age 27, he was a builder and provided many beautiful homes for his new wife and three daughters. Though life was good with all his family and friends nearby, he longed for an adventure, and Alaska called him.
In 1969, Mike bought a new dodge truck and camper, rented a U-haul to carry his tools, put almost all their belongings in a portable moving and storage unit to be shipped up later, and moved his young family to Anchorage, Alaska. Back then, the Alcan Highway was 1,250 miles of unpaved road, and it took a long and weary seven days to reach Anchorage. It was a hugely booming city then — neighborhoods moving into the wilderness — and they often saw moose and other wild animals in their backyard.
It was while living there that a pair of LDS sister missionaries found Mike and his family. Mike eventually joined the church, and one year later, flew the family to the Oakland Temple in California to be sealed together.
The family moved to Powell in the fall of 1972, and Mike set them up with a home. But work in Anchorage was too good to leave, so Mike would live in Anchorage for six months, come home to get everything up to speed again in Powell, then the family would move back to Anchorage to spend summer months together. In later years, he loved traveling with friends back to Alaska for salmon fishing at all his favorite old haunts. Last August, his daughter, Celia, took him back for another visit, and he loved it, and came back excited and ready to plan another trip to his beloved “Last Frontier.”
After two years of living so far from his family, Mike took a new work direction and opened his first business in Powell, naming it Big Horn Millworks. He sold Pella windows, cabinets, carpet and doors, and continued building on the side. He built rental apartments, private homes, his business buildings and, for Northwest College, he built Trapper Village and the LPN Nursing and daycare buildings.
Mike loved living in Powell. He appreciated the friendly people and the waves exchanged while driving. Later, people he no longer recognized would say, “Hi, Mike!” He responded in like manner, then asked whoever was with him, “Now, who was that?” Small town life suited Mike and Sylvia down to the ground.
When the Billings temple was completed, Mike and Sylvia were one of the first set of temple workers called there, and they served for five years.
On Dec. 26, 2012, Mike was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He spent 36 days in the Billings hospital and endured three operations before being discharged to enjoy the last of his time at his beloved home. He filled the time, not surprisingly, with hard work.
Once Mike was asked what he would do if he had free time, and he responded, “I would build a house!”
Mike loved making people happy, he loved a good joke, he loved working hard and he loved his family and friends.
Mike was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Tom, and sister, Joan.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Sylvia Ruth Petersen; their three daughters Syndee Lynn Fishe, Leah Beth (Kip) Fishe Rasmussen and Celia (John) Fishe Mangus; seven grandchildren Taalin Sjale Rasmussen, Katalyn Kelsey Mangus, Steele Michael Rasmussen, Shiloh Brock Mangus, Torrin Ciara Rasmussen, Michaela Syndee Mangus and Ramsey Shane Mangus.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, June 1 at 10 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Avenue E in Powell. Visitation begins prior to services at 9 a.m.
Thompson Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements and condolences may be sent to the family at www.thompsonfuneral.net or P.O. Box 807, Powell, WY 82435.