Michael Thomas Welfel passed away Aug. 23, 2020.
Michael was born Dec. 13, 1953 in New York City to father, Frederick John Welfel and mother, Gloria Cecilia Boland. After growing up in Spanish Harlem, he spent his younger years working as an auto mechanic in Massachusetts, a construction worker in Florida and Arizona, and developed his love of travel while employed as a long-haul trucker, driving all over the southern United States.
He met and married his first wife, May Stillwell, in Phoenix, Arizona in 1980 and shortly thereafter, joined the Army. After the birth of their daughter, Nicole, they headed off to Germany. Unfortunately, May became sick and Mike was reassigned to a Recruiting Office in Colville, WA where May’s family lived. She passed away there in January of 1989 and the following year he received an Honorable Discharge from the Army following a disabling injury.
Colville was a far cry from the bright lights of Manhattan, but this city boy quickly established himself as a successful businessman, owning and operating his own Vacuum Cleaner sales and repair shop, A-1 Distributing, for almost 20 years. During that time, he met Christine “KiKi” Johnson Pratt and they were married on Oct. 6, 1991. Mike sold his business and retired in 2008 due to health issues, and KiKi retired 5 years later. They promptly abandoned their snow shovels and headed south, snow-birding for 2 years in Arizona before making it official in 2015 when they purchased a home in Oracle.
Aside from being a self-made man, Mike was also extremely gifted in other vocations such as carpentry, welding, gardening, landscaping and home improvement projects. When he wasn’t hunting or fishing, or riding his beloved Harley Davidson motorcycle all over the country, he was planning his and KiKi’s next trip in their RV! He always said, “I have Gypsy in my blood!”
Michael’s love of music was also evident in his life, and soon after moving to Oracle, he and KiKi became supporters of the Oracle Center for the Arts. He enjoyed meeting performers and sharing in the thrill of each concert with other music lovers. He loved watching the pianist’s hands, so he often stood in the back so as not to miss anything! At his suggestion, a camera was installed to show the pianist’s hands on an overhead screen so they could be seen from every seat.
Mike was member of American Legion Frank Starr Post #47 in Colville, WA, the NRA, and the American Motorcycle Association. He had a deep faith in God and was a devoted member of the Oracle Union Church, and lovingly made many charitable contributions, believing the words of Jesus, “Freely ye have received, freely give.”
Michael is survived by his wife, KiKi; daughter, Nicole Welfel; brother, Fred Welfel (Liz); and sisters, Dottie Bellochio, Sharon Dunham (Wayne) and Patricia Welfel. He leaves behind stepchildren, (Kiki’s children) Stephanie Hare (Jeremy) and granddaughter, Sophie; Travis Pratt (Kimberly) and grandson, Milo Pratt; and (May’s children) Tom Kammers (Eve), Bob Kammers, Gary Walling (Shirley), and Susan Kammers. He is also survived by several nephews, nieces and step-grandchildren, and by his best friend, Stan Handley (Patty).
Mike lived a full life every single day, beginning each morning with a smile, a zest for living and never going to sleep without telling you his plans for his next adventure. In response to the question, “How are you?” he could often be heard saying, “I couldn’t be better if there were two of me!” His quick smile and loving and generous spirit will live on in those of us who remember him.
An outdoor, physical distancing, Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Oracle Center for the Arts, 700 E. Kingston St. in Oracle, beginning at 6 p.m. If you cannot attend, please send to KiKi and Nicole any special thoughts you have about Michael to P.O. Box 5327, Oracle, AZ 85623.
Memorial donations may be made to:
• Oracle Union Church (P O Box 381, Oracle),
• Oracle Piano Society (P O Box 1564, Oracle),
• Tri-Community Food Bank (108 W Redmond Drive, Mammoth)
• or to the charity of your choice.