Michael A. Weber
Michael A. Weber, 72, of Sparta, passed peacefully into the next life on Sunday, November 8, 2015, surrounded by loved ones at his Sparta home.
Michael Arthur Weber was born on August 20, 1943, in Winnebago, MN, to George and Agnes (Brandt) Weber. He started elementary school in Winnebago. When his family moved to Marshall, MN, he attended Holy Redeemer Catholic School for a short while. They later moved to Baudette, MN, where he graduated from high school in 1961.
Michael was the 11th of 12 children. His childhood was filled with an abundance of siblings, more than anything else. Michael had his share of mischief in his young years, but he was determined to succeed and paid attention to his studies.
In 1962, he lost his job due to seasonal changes. Not having a job was unacceptable; he immediately began a job search. He answered an advertisement for farm help and was hired by his future father-in-law, Camiel Louwagie.
Mike and Darlene (Louwagie) were married in Green Valley, MN, on June 6, 1964. To this union three daughters were born: Susan (Viroqua), Sharon (Madison), and Stacey (Sparta). The three daughters each had two children: Paige and Megan Johnson (Susan), Ash and Sydney Weber-Campbell (Sharon), and Derek Lincoln and Weber Mentzel (Stacey).
After the marriage, Mike worked for VanderWal road construction in Brookings, SD. In 1966 he started his career in the telephone industry with ITT. The family left for Belgium on January 1, 1970, and lived there while Mike attended training to learn about the new digital telephone switching systems. This led to many years as a recognized expert; he would travel to other offices when they needed help troubleshooting their systems.
Later, he worked at La Crosse Telephone Company (eventually renamed Century Telephone). For many years, he managed the customer service department in La Crosse, fine-tuning his communications and management skills as he was in charge of 30 people, primarily women. In fact, he was honored to be named the 1982 Business Associate of the Year by the American Business Women’s Association. Eventually, he took over management of the Sparta telephone office, where he retired in 1998.
Mike loved a good problem, and spent many hours fixing things. He would immerse himself in projects; over the years, he built a fiberglass satellite dish, a go cart, dog houses when needed, or any hard-to-find part that someone was searching for. He spent many hours in his shop, and made many picture frames. He also loved repairing small engines. His ability to analyze and solve problems served him well in his job, career, and personal life.
He was always driven to be a good provider. Mike was motivated, and determined to provide lifelong stability for his family. It was very important to him to pay off his house, to provide for his family, and to ensure that his daughters had the education that they wanted. He was, truly, a self-made man who exceeded every goal he had in this area.
Michael passed his lessons on to his children and grandchildren, using short verbal lessons that will always be remembered. He and Darlene also taught many lessons about community and business, through several family-owned businesses. They owned the Montgomery Wards catalog store in the ‘80s, and Mike spent many weekends making deliveries in his old pickup truck. Later, they owned the Kleen-EZ Carwash in Sparta; there, Mike had many opportunities to practice his repair skills. That theme continued when they co-owned the Sparta Dairy Queen for a short period of time, and then owned the Tomah Dairy Queen for many years.
He was a lifetime member of the Sparta Chamber of Commerce and St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. He also belonged to Rotary and the Sparta Industrial Foundation, as well as serving on the Parish Council of St. Patrick’s for many years, and the Morrow Home Board for seven years.
Mike was dedicated to making Sparta a better place and worked on bringing Century Foods, McPherson Bows, and Multi Stack to Sparta. He was instrumental in starting the Rotary lights in the park at Christmas time.
At the age of 40, he was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. This progressive and painful disease became a regular struggle for him; despite many attempted courses of treatment, the disease never really slowed down. In 2008, he suffered a major stroke. In typical Michael fashion, he improved faster and more completely than predicted, and regained quite a bit of mobility. Unfortunately, the rheumatoid arthritis did not stop. Over the years, he lived through many surgeries and treatments, along with progressively limited mobility. Despite the constant pain and limitations, Mike kept smiling; after all, you don’t have to move very fast to give someone a hard time...all he needed was his quick wit and positive attitude. Mike’s reaction in the face of intense pain was an inspiration to everyone around him; it often seemed that when he was in more pain, he showed increased concern for people around him.
He is survived by his wife of 51 years, his three daughters, and six grandchildren. He is further survived by two sisters: Joanne Maxwell (Duane) and Bernadette Hendricks (Ron), and four sisters-in-law: Christin Weber Sack, Dolores Weber, Donna Weber, and Anne Weber. He is also survived by his brother-in-law, Bill Maney, and many nieces and nephews.
He is also survived by Darlene’s family, George Louwagie (Cathy), Ernest Louwagie (Jane), Dick Vroman, Bernice Fischer (Chuck), and Shirley Schulz (Rick Perry).
Mike was predeceased by his parents, his mother and father-in-law, four brothers (George, Dale, John, and David), five sisters (Mary LaVonne, Doris Stark, Beverly Mathies, Mary Maney, and Cecile Meza), and one sister-in-law, Helen Vroman.
Michael came from humble beginnings. Anyone could have used his surroundings as an excuse to stay there. Instead, Mike used his intelligence, motivation, wit, and an outstanding ability to connect with people to make a better life for himself and his family. He was a self-made man who succeeded in his career, his family, and his friendships. Mike reminded everyone around him that it’s important to work hard, and it’s important to have fun while you do it. He will be missed by people he has touched all along his life’s path.
Family and friends were invited to call at Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home, Sparta, on Thursday from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. A prayer service and memorial began at 7 p.m.; friends and family were invited to share stories about Mike and celebrate his life. Visitation continued on Friday at St. Patrick’s’ Catholic Church, Sparta, from 10 a.m. until the time of services.
A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial was held Friday, November 13, 2015 at 11 a.m., with Father James Leary OFM Cap officiating. Burial was in the church cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorials be sent to St. Patrick’s Catholic School, 100 S. L Street, Sparta.
The Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home, Sparta, assisted the family with arrangements.
Online condolences may be offered at www.schanhoferfh.com