Life Story Visitation
Thursday, November 17, 2022
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Where food, drinks, and stories will be shared.
Please note the new day for the Life Story Visitation.
Friday, November 18, 2022
10:30 AM EST
Fort Custer National Cemetery
15501 Dickman Rd.
Augusta, MI 49012
Life Story / Obituary
Determined, loving, funny, and wise, Mike Wolf lived a life rich in faith, family, and friends. Mike loved people and naturally knew how to bring them together. He faced life’s hardships with unwavering confidence and found the humor in just about anything. He was humble, generous, and kind, and used his radio voice to break the ice and relieve stressful situations. Whether lending a tool, coaching a team, or hosting a holiday, Mike always took care of business and prided himself on providing his loved ones with stability and security. Mike was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend who was revered by many. While our days with him were far too few, the gift of his steadfast companionship will long live in our hearts.
1947 proved a year of continued celebration of the nation's momentous victory in World War II. America's heroes eagerly returned home to a country filled with renewed spirit and hope, ready to claim their share of the American Dream, which they fought so proudly for overseas. As American prosperity grew like no time in our history hope sprang eternal, and the Greatest Generation soon proliferated, creating the age of the Baby Boomers. For the Wolf family, the cause for celebration grew even greater as they welcomed their son, Mike, into their hearts and home on December 13.
Growing up on Vine Street, Mike’s early years were rooted in faith and family. His mother was a cook for the YMCA and area Catholic Diocese, and his father, who was a musician, worked training people to repair televisions for Goodwill. Regardless of how busy their days were, the family gathered around the dining room table every evening. It was there that Mike tested his father. When his father Andy told him in Hungarian to eat his food because people were going hungry in other countries. Mike quickly responded by telling his father, “Well, send this to them!” Immediately he found himself looking up at the ceiling, the rest of the family just looked at him and kept on eating. Another epic memory for Mike was when his dear friend and babysitter Dee Axe spun him and the other kids around in a wash barrel; it was like going to the fair for free!
Once while helping his father repair TVs, Andy firmly instructed him, “do not touch that (TV Tube).” As soon as his dad turned around, Mike reached out and touched the tube, and the electric shock knocked him back. Andy just laughed and laughed. When he was about ten years old, Mike and his buddy Mark pursued a creative endeavor to make money. They collected day-old newspapers, ironed, and refolded them to look new, and sold them as such at the Sportsmans Bar. The patrons would purchase their paper, realize they were a day old, and chase them out of the bar.
As a teen, Mike attended Kalamazoo Central High School. He played football for Coach Dob Drake, played travel ball with the Kalamazoo Maroons baseball club, and played high school baseball. Following high school, Mike served four years in the Airforce during the Vietnam War. Mike returned home safely and began a 35-year career working for United Parcel Service (UPS).
While grabbing a meal with some buddies at Schwarz’s Drive-In, Mike couldn’t help but notice the attractive young woman driving a pink 1958 four-door Buick. In little time, Mike, who was driving a fastback Mustang, challenged Annette to a race, and the pair drag-raced down Michigan Avenue in downtown Kalamazoo. Despite beating her off the line, Annette and her Buick quickly sailed right by the guys. She won the race, and Mike nearly died of embarrassment. Undeniably smitten, Mike was instantly attracted to Annette’s spontaneity and joy for life, and she couldn’t resist his kind heart and stable presence.
With their hearts set on sharing the future, Mike and Annette married when he was on leave home from Vietnam laying his father Andrew Wolf to his eternal rest. They had a small intimate wedding and after being honorably discharged from the Air Force they made their home in the nearby community of Mattawan. In time, they were blessed to become parents of Heather, Joe and Andy. Mike devoted himself to providing for his family. Hosting epic Fourth of July bashes that included nearly the entire town of Mattawan and summers spent in Gladstone with his sister Bev were fond traditions. And though Christmas-inspired UPS demands made him a Grinch, the family relished in their traditions. Every Christmas morning, the kids had to wait for Mike to shower before they could open their presents. One famous Christmas, after Joe exited the shower wet, Mike’s socks became soaked upon stepping on the wet rug. He yelled out to his family, “I would like to thank the person who got out of the shower wet!!” His family yelled back, “it’s a shower, with water, how else are you going to get out of it?” An instant family legend, every Christmas since that fateful day, included someone at some point in the morning yelling out, “I would like to thank the person who got out of the shower wet!!” Mike and Annette always got a good laugh remembering how Mike got the scar above his eye…. Soup Can.
Mike was a man of principle who enjoyed every moment with his children and grandchildren. Mike struggled deeply when his son Andy was sent into combat to Afghanistan more than once. They share a bond of patriotism and love for the armed forces that will forever be instilled through the Wolf Family. Mike always was very proud of his children and grandchildren. He often gave credit for them to his wife Annette. He would say “She is the one who raised these great kids. I was just along for the ride.” He loved to sit in his man cave and tinker as much as he enjoyed hosting guests. He loved traveling in his motorhome and being “The Host with The Most” at many Michigan State Parks. He enjoyed fishing and the family has many found memories fishing at Russ and Deb’s and of him taking everyone out to ice fish or fish in his small boat. He was a passionate University of Michigan Football Fan and loved singing along to the Wolverine’s Fight song. He enjoyed sports and coached Mattawan Little League, and Junior Varsity and Varsity Softball. Leading by example, Mike believed in fulfilling one’s commitments; there was never a consideration of quitting a team before a season’s end. When you make a mistake just throw it away like dirt in the wind. He valued hard work, but he also understood the importance of enjoying life. He knew laughter was the best way to bring people together and had a gift for providing levity in even the darkest of times.
Whether meeting the day’s challenges or celebrating its joys, Mike led by example. He chose faith over fear, hope over despair, and laughter at every turn. Customary quotes like “even an eagle can be a hawk among crows, and “even a broken clock is right twice a day,” reflected his persevering spirit and encouraged others to keep their hearts focused on faith. Simple things like listening to his favorite songs inspired happiness for Mike. Everlasting Love, Mike and Annette’s song, was a favorite. As was King of the Road and Elvira. Mike had a deep faith. He loved Jesus and shared a best friendship with the Holy Ghost; he talked to the Holy Ghost every day. Mike knew he was never alone. He knew that God did not call him home early, but he was receiving him with open arms welcoming his adopted son whom he loved so much. He valued his faith and family first, he believed that you need to earn what is yours, do not take crap from anyone, work hard but play harder, help those who are in need and if the drive through messes up your order, it is ok to go inside and cause a scene.
A treasured friend and companion for all who knew him, Mike will long be remembered and so very missed. His legacy will be proudly carried forward by those he so dearly loved. In each moment we share laughter, enjoy a cold Coors Light, cheer on the Wolverines, eat Hungarian pigs in the blanket, celebrate a holiday, or adventure with our beloved, we celebrate the many ways Mike blessed our lives. In this way we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired us.