Obituary of Mike Willison
Mass of Christian Burial for Mike Willison, age 72, of Milford will be held on Saturday, January 6, 2024 at 1:00pm at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Milford. Inurnment will be at Calvary Cemetery in Milford. Visitation will take place on Saturday, January 6, 2024 from 3:00-6:00pm at the Majestic Pavilion in Arnolds Park.
Mike Willison will be remembered for many things including being a good man, a good husband, a good father, a good friend, a good steady worker, and a good boss and supervisor.
Michael Wayne was born on July 23rd, 1951, to Wayne and Ruby Willison. Growing up a farm boy outside of Milford taught him a valuable work ethic. Never to shy away from hard work, he participated in FFA and football before graduating from Milford High School in 1969. He served in the Army National Guard for four years then worked for various companies before partnering with a friend to start his own business, building and fabricating corn bins and seed mills. The business proved successful, winning Mike and Vicki a trip to Monte Carlo when Mike’s company built the largest Chief grain bin for the year. Mike drew attention from his success. He went on to work on the road for the Ken Bratney Company and later Agra Construction. These jobs took him to several states and Puerto Rico. At times he oversaw more than 100 people. As his experience grew, another company, AEC, hired him away and Mike found himself being requested by Monsanto to oversee construction projects in countries such as Romania and Indonesia. Mike was a leader and had the uncanny ability to read people. When he was called to fix a troubled project, Mike could walk around the site, talk to a few people, observe for a brief time, and then identify the changes needed. On Mike’s arrival in Romania, he insisted on meeting every employee at the gate in the morning and gave them each a bottle of water. Mike earned the respect of many during his widespread career.
Mike was a steadfast husband of 52 years, even though he joked that he was able to stay with Vicki only because he was gone half of the time. Mike and Vicki were married in Milford on June 5, 1971. Mike’s patience and integrity were evident throughout the years beginning with starting a family while working on the road, later moving to a new home, managing multiple properties, caring for numerous animals, and welcoming his mother-in-law to live with them.
Mike loved his children, Heather and Heath, and grandson, Dayton, and loved spending time with them. Mike found joy and supported his daughter in all her endeavors. Mike displayed his rock presence as the couple faced heart-wrenching hospital stays with their son. He always did whatever his children needed from him. He sought to create a solid foundation for his grandson, who was the light of his later life. He always stood by his family through thick and thin. He was known for being firm but fair and could often be heard encouraging responsibility and the spreading of young wings. The family enjoyed trips to places like Disney World, Montana, and Colorado. Mike and Vicki enjoyed several trips and lively memories to Cancun with friends. Mike loved to travel and stopped only because of health issues.
Friends knew Mike was always there to help, and many times he offered a hand even before being asked. He loved to laugh and have fun. Mike loved to have large bonfires at their acreage, with plenty of food and libations. A party at the Willison farm was never a dull one. Mike did not like to miss a chance to play a joke on someone but was a good sport on the receiving end also.
Mike and Vicki shared a passion for horses which was sparked by his father and uncle, from whom he learned as he watched them work with their driving teams. Mike loved to hitch up a team and drive them in a parade or have a hayride with friends. Over the course of 18 years of attending the Waverly horse sale, Mike accumulated a substantial amount of driving harnesses, buggies, and several beautiful draft paint horses. Mike never came home empty handed.
Even after moving to a house on Lower Gar Lake, the love of the farm never left Mike. He started buying cattle and goats and had great pride watching his grandson show them in 4H, winning many ribbons. He would count the days to the Clay County Fair and spend every moment he could watching the livestock events and taking in all the other experiences. The 4H days are long over, but a few cattle can still be found at the farm.
Mike’s laugh, smile, calmness, and wisdom will be missed by all who knew him.
Mike passed away on December 23rd, 2023 at Lakes Regional Healthcare. Left to cherish his memory is his wife, Vicki Willison of Milford; children, Heather Lee and Heath Michael Willison of Milford; grandson, Dayton Michael Willison of Milford; sister, Pat (Jack) Wilson of Aurelia; brothers-in-law, Mark (friend, Elaine) Vogel of Bigfork, MT and Kent Simonson of Milford; sisters-in-law, Mari Vogel of Durham, NC and Alyce (Bruce) Vogel-Hauglid of Minnetrista, MN; many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Wayne Willison, and mother, Ruby Willison, sister, Linda Simonson, father-in-law, Lyle Vogel, favorite mother-in-law, Lucille Vogel, brother-in-law, Dr. Brad Vogel; Micki, Maude, Mercedes, and Benz, draft horses waiting to be hitched up again.