Life Story Visitation
Saturday, February 26, 2022
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food, drinks and stories will be shared.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
A gentle giant, Mike McCoy was a kind man who lived a heart-centered life. Mike was laid-back, generous, and fun to be around. He sincerely enjoyed people and intuitively knew what folks needed. He never met a stranger, rather new friends at every turn. Mike enjoyed life and sharing it with those he loved, especially his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He embraced life's challenges and joys with grace and confidence, and in doing so, proved a powerful role model for those who were blessed to know him.
With the rearming of US forces, the strains of the Great Depression began to ease in 1940. Americans' incomes grew, and their increased spending further fueled the economy. In the US, the optimism of leaving the depression behind inspired the making of several classic movies, including "Gone With the Wind" and the "Great Dictator," while the invigorating sounds of Benny Goodman and Count Basie's Jazz filled our homes with hope. Newly invented Nylon stockings were all the rage with women, and FDR was elected for an unprecedented third term. Despite the ominous winds of change blowing in from Europe, the foundation of hope and generosity our nation had firmly rooted itself in as a result of the preceding decade's hardships could not be shaken. It was within this overwhelming feeling of fortitude, generosity, and hope that the McCoy family welcomed their son Mike into their hearts and lives on February 22nd.
Growing up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Mike enjoyed a childhood rich in family values. Along with his older brother, Gene, he enjoyed a simple life that included making their own fun and attending Catholic schools. As he grew into his 7' 1" frame, the nuns didn't take too well with him. While he preferred having fun over his studies, he quickly dominated the basketball court. He loved the game and took pride and being the first 7-footer to play high school basketball in Indiana. As a senior in high school, Mike won the honor of Indiana's Mr. Basketball for the 1957-58 year.
After graduating from high school, Mike first attended Northwestern University in Illinois before transferring to the University of Miami in Florida. While a student-athlete in Miami, Mike continued to excel on the court and became well known as "a big man who could shoot." He continued to choose fun over his schooling and was often the center of much laughter and good times.
In 1963, Mike was the 21st player selected in the NBA draft and played for the Detroit Pistons for a year. He later played for Akron Goodyear in the National Industrial League for four years. In 1999, he was inducted to the Indiana Basketball Hall Fame, and in 2007, he was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame.
While working for Goodyear, Mike had the good fortune of meeting Helen Neu. Helen also worked for the company as Mike's secretary. The divorcees quickly hit it off and were soon dating. Mike not only fell in love with Helen, but his heart also welcomed her two teenage children. Deb was 19, and Bill was 17 at the time. On September 1, 1973, Mike and Helen married in Ashland, Ohio, and the family of four celebrated together at the Toronto Zoo.
Mike and Helen enjoyed a happy marriage. Helen was Mike's princess, and he relished taking care of her. Whether filling the car with gas, tending to the home, or teasing his 5' tall wife about their height difference, he did his best to make sure Helen knew how much he cared for and appreciated her. Mike had an easy nature and loved gathering with his family, especially for holidays. Mike was a proud and playful grandfather. He would let his grandkids do anything to him. He was always willing to let them dress him up, have a date night, or embrace whatever they wanted to do, including adventuring together at Disney.
A natural host, Mike believed in playing hard. Over the years, he entertained a lot at the Palace in Auburn Hills with Goodyear in the corporate suite. He enjoyed going out for dinners, seeing shows in Branson, Missouri, and playing golf. Mike enjoyed cutting the lawn on his riding mower, Deg's chocolate fudge, Watching the movie Young Frankenstein for a laugh, and the good company of a German shepherd or cat were more of Mike's favorites. Many terrific vacation memories were made in Williamsburg, where he and Helen had a timeshare. Not much of a handyman, Mike's solution for most things that needed to be fixed involved Duct tape!
A lifelong smoker, COPD and a bad back demanded Mike slow down. As Mike grew older and his health declined, he grew worried about assuring Helen was cared for. To help buffer this worry, he and Helen moved to Richland near Deb and her family five years ago. He died peacefully at Glen Arbor Hospice, Battle Creek, on February 15, 2022.
Clearly, the world feels less certain in the absence of Mike's steadfast company. May we find comfort in our many treasured memories and in the honor of carrying his legacy forward. Each moment we share with our beloved, curl up with a favorite four-legged companion, gather for a family celebration, and meet the day with kindness and gratitude, we celebrate the many ways Mike gifted our lives. In this way, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired us.
Mike was preceded in death by his granddaughter, Kori Heilman and by his brother, Gene McCoy. Members of his family include his wife, Helen McCoy; children: Deb (Mike) Heilman and Bill (Jean) Neu; grandchildren: Katie Boyes and Kimberly Heilman and Domonic and Camille Neu and a niece, Cara McCoy. Cremation has taken place. Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where food, drinks, and stories will be shared on Saturday, February 26, 2022 from 2-4 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900. Visit Mike’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos and sign his guestbook.