At his bedside as the Lord called him home was his wife of 52 years, Ilse. Also present were his children, Deborah Watson of Kalamazoo, Mich., Michael Jr. of Tampa, Fla., and Bernard and his wife, Susan, of Killeen, Texas.
One of 16 children, Mike lived a life made full by the love of his family and was preceded in death by his parents, Anna Mary and Bernard Joseph; brothers, Adam, Bernard, Frances, Richard, Edmund, Leo, Joseph, Robert and Marcel; sisters, Theresa and Delores.
In addition to his wife and children, Mike is survived by brothers, Harry, Irvin, Wilfred and his wife, Edith, and Albert and his wife, Stephanie; sisters-in-law, Brunhilde Cuniglio of New York and Elvira Lauterbach and her husband, Guenter, of Germany, eight grandchildren, one great- grandchild; and many nieces and nephews.
Mike was born in Wheeling, W.Va., on September 29, 1934, and attended St. Ladislaus Catholic School and Church.
Following graduation from Wheeling Central High Catholic School in 1952, he was drafted into the U.S. Army at Fort Mead in 1953.
He served his Country with distinction and was a proud American who cherished being part of this great nation. Following his induction on March 3, 1953, he served as an NCO and later attended Officer Candidate School graduating on April 12, 1960. He was appointed as a Regular Army Officer in August of 1964 and retired as a Major on November 30, 1976. During his tenure in the army, he graduated from the University of Omaha in 1967 with a Bachelor of General Studies in Psychology and Education. His long military career saw duty spanning the world from Alaska to Vietnam; and it was while stationed in Germany that he married the former Ilse Puerfurst on December 17, 1955.
A decorated Army Officer, Mike was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal; Bronze Star Medal; Army Commendation Medal; Air Medal; Combat Infantryman Badge; Good Conduct Medal with Clasp, Bronze, two Loops; Parachutist Badge; National Defense Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster; Army of Occupation Medal; Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal; Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze Service Stars; Vietnamese Staff Service Medal First Class; Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star; and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm.
His military career was followed by a second career in the world of real estate. Mike and his wife founded First Western Realty, Inc., in 1978. With his usual enthusiasm, Mike pursued all avenues open to him by first becoming a Real Estate agent in 1976, then a Broker in 1978. He was mentor to many agents in the area and was always willing to teach others what he knew. He served the Real Estate industry proudly by becoming the President of the Ft. Hood Board of Realtors for the year 1990 and was named Realtor of the Year in 1977. Home Inspection & Appraisal Service was added to the company in the early 1980s with Mike then becoming licensed as a State Certified General Real Estate Appraiser and a State Certified Professional Home Inspector. Until his battle with cancer began he was a constant presence at the office and active in all phases of the business he and Ilse built.
A lifelong avid sportsman, Mike was always thankful for the many wonderful opportunities he had in the sporting world, which ranged from hunting the hills or fishing the lakes and rivers of West Virginia as a boy to being a hunting guide in Alaska as a young man. He was especially proud to have played for the Washington Redskins’ farm team from 1956 to 1957 and of his position supervising all of the Rod and Gun Clubs across Europe while also being the Chief Hunting Instructor and Negotiator with the German government to retain the hunting and fishing rights for the US military in Europe. It was in this position that he was privileged to have hunted with many members of the German aristocracy, the upper echelon of military personnel and American icons such as Chuck Yeager and Phillip Crow Sr.
In the early 1980s Mike and Ilse started the Quarter Horse Gallery, which became one of the premier breeding and training facility in the Central Texas region producing many fine show horses. Always more than a business venture, Mike’s love of the equestrian world included his participation as a horseman in many shows in Texas and the surrounding states in which he won numerous awards in the Showmanship, Horsemanship, Western Pleasure, Trail Riding and Halter Classes. His awards also included several All-Around and High Point wins.
Bass fishing became his passion in his later years. Mike fished on both the amateur and professional sides of many major tournaments and from local club tournaments to the Bass Master Elite Series; he enjoyed it all.
Always an active participant in any endeavor, Mike was a Life Member of the following organizations, The United States Army Officer Candidate Schools Alumni Association, Inc.; The National Rifle Association (NRA); The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA); Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS); and the North American Fishing Club. Additionally he was a member of Ducks Unlimited, The National Wild Turkey Federation and Forrest L. Woods (FLW Outdoors).
It is often said on these occasions that we will never forget. In Mike’s case this has to be true as the love he showed his family, the respect he showed to all, the honor with which he served his country, his dedicated work ethic and the enthusiasm with which he pursued his leisure activities has left an indelible mark on us all.
Visitation is Monday, December 3, 2007, from 6-8 p.m., at the Crawford-Bowers Funeral Home, 1615 South Ft. Hood St., Killeen, TX 76542.
Mass will also be at Crawford-Bowers and will be held Tuesday, December 4, 2007, at 12:30 p.m., with interment to follow in the Texas State Veterans Cemetery, where Mike will be buried with full military honors.
In lieu of flowers memorials, may be made to MD Anderson Cancer Center, MK GU Cancer Center, P.O. Box 4486 or Vista Care Foundation, 2626-B South 37th St., Temple, TX 76504.