Michael Dean Mikota, 62, died of a heart attack Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012. He is predeceased by his parents, John and Aileen Mikota of Medford, Ore.
Mike is survived by his wife of 39 years, Karen Leaphart Mikota; and their children, Abe and Brigit Mikota of Helena. He leaves behind three younger brothers and two younger sisters: John (Shirley) Mikota of Kimberly, Idaho; Ray and Bryan Mikota, both of Ashland, Ore. ; Chris Mikota of Medford; and Pat (Buzz) Hettick of Laramie, Wyo.
Mike is survived by several nieces and nephews and extended family, Bobbi and Jim Evans of Snohomish, Wash. ; father-in-law, C.W. “Bill” Leaphart of Helena; sister-in-law, Susan Leaphart of Missoula; and brother-in-law, W.W. “Bill” (Babs) Leaphart and their family, Rebecca (Ben), Retta and Ada.
Born in Pasco, Wash., on Aug. 3, 1950, Mike grew up in the Tri-Cities area. As a high school baseball player, he was scouted by the New York Yankees. Despite his desire to play professional ball, his father insisted he receive a university education first. Mike graduated from the University of Montana in Missoula and then received a master’s degree in counseling. He served as a teacher, a counselor, a vice principal, a principal and a superintendent in various Montana communities.
Throughout his working life, Mike sold advertising on a part-time or full-time basis. No Christmas gift was complete unless accompanied by two dozen ballpoint pens, three key chains or a pair of glow-in-the dark socks.
A versatile man and natural athlete, Mike devoured Anne Perry Victorian mysteries, staunchly refused to watch anything but action films, excelled in Trivial Pursuit, and was a skilled potter, a talented fisherman, a terrible cross-country skier and an avid golfer. Each weekend began with a pre-dawn golf round, complete with fluorescent golf balls, played with his longtime friend and golfing partner, Monte Mason.
Mike took great delight in his family, rejoicing in their triumphs and empathizing with their losses. He devoted countless hours to his in-laws during illness and infirmity. The nightly card games of “Spite and Malice” between Mike and his father-in-law were loud and unforgiving. (Unfortunately, his untimely death left $1.20 still owing to his opponent, calculated at a nickel a card).
A big and garrulous man, Mike was a presence — impossible to miss. Sadly, for his friends and family, it is the absence of his presence, which will now be impossible to miss.
The family suggests any donations to be made to a charity of the donor’s choice or that they treat a child to nine holes of golf.
There was a reception at the Barrister, 416 N. Ewing on Sunday, Aug. 19, at 5:30 p. m.