Obituary - Mike Lillie
Last updated 9/17/2020 at 11:13am
Mike Lillie liked a saying that goes, "There is more to life than increasing its speed." Perhaps, it rang true to him, given that he lived his life pursuing dreams with passion and gifting everyone he encountered with sincere help and, very often, hearty laughter.
Mike passed away Sept. 7, 2020, in Havre, Montana, after spending his last days doing what he loved, enjoying family and the outdoors in northern Montana.
It might appear that a 5-year-old boy got all his wishes when you review Mike's life: he fought fire, flew planes, hiked and climbed and hunted and fished. Throughout his life he enjoyed and shared the great toys associated with outdoor fun: 4x4s, canoes and boats, fishing tackle and guns. He learned to love backpacking and rock climbing. But along the way he accomplished so many things a child would not know to dream of. He became a beloved son, brother and uncle; he married and became a father to two beautiful, strong children. Ultimately, he left a legacy of people wanting more of his friendship.
This was largely due to his generosity. Fortunately, he was very generous with his greatest talent, making people laugh. Many times people commented he could do a stand-up act if he put his mind to it. If he had, it would have been a show of sharp wit based on an unflinching, honest appraisal of the world he moved through. Mike was original in all his material, but never went out of the way to achieve that. It came natural, from his soul. But humor was only part of what came with his friendship. He always looked to help out in any way he could, be it a hiking buddy, a family member, or a church or school.
He was born in Chicago, Illinois, April 24, 1963, but grew up in the Los Angeles, California, area, graduating from Workman High School. Mike knew he would be most happy outdoors even at a young age. At 5 years old, he informed his family he wanted to become a forest ranger. He followed this up by volunteering to clear brush and participating in the Youth Conservation Corps. He continued his dream by becoming a wildland firefighter for the Forest Service in Southern California. He became member of a hot shot crew and later an engine crew.
Mike moved from Southern California to Spokane, Washington, around 1990. In the following years he worked in landscaping and pursued two main interests, Colleen McCann and becoming a pilot. He succeeded in both. He and Colleen married in 1995 and in 1996 he earned his commercial pilot license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Moses Lake, Washington. Both achievements defined the next period of his life, but the most significant events around this same time were the births of his son, Curtis, and daughter, Kathryn.
Mike and Colleen lived in the Spokane area from 1990 through 2008, then they moved to Sammamish, Washington.
Mike loved his children with all his heart and they became his focus in the last two decades. He became a stay-at-home Dad and did not hesitate when his role as parent obligated him to be a toddler's chauffeur or, later, a volunteer at the school Curtis and Kathryn attended. Of course he created comedy from the day-to-day routines of raising his kids.
Mike never turned his back on his outdoor interests and encouraged his children to learn the value and fun in hiking, camping, hunting and fishing. Specifically, he encouraged fly fishing and upland game bird hunting, and along the way trained bird dogs, Fritz and Greta.
Recently, Mike took opportunity to experience more of the outdoors and spent the last year touring the Midwest and West with an RV in tow. Friends were intrigued as to where a social media post might reveal his whereabouts. Without a doubt, his friends hoped he would swing by for a visit.
Mike is survived by his brother David (Arlene) Lillie and his sister Kathy Sanchez; his son, Curtis Lillie; his daughter, Kathryn Lillie; Colleen McCann-Lillie; and, finally, 34 nieces and nephews.
Mike will be missed by many. He may not have realized what he meant to those who knew him. His sister and brother will remember him as a boy with dreams; the friends and family he gained throughout life will remember a man who achieved those dreams. He set an example by focusing on what was most important, not getting distracted by the fast-paced world. His legacy of leaving people wanting more of his friendship, help and humor will always remain.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 19 at St. Jude Catholic Church in Havre, Montana. There will be a celebration of life following the service. Mike's family has suggested memorial donations be made to the Mike Lillie Memorial, c/o St. Joseph Catholic Church, 220 Mountain Park Boulevard SW, Issaquah, WA 98027.
Holland & Bonine Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements.
Please visit Mike's online memorial page and leave a message of condolence for his family at http://www.hollandbonine.com .