Michael's Story

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On Feb. 18, 2018 Mike Brown passed suddenly from this mortal plane. Nursing homes throughout the region heaved a sigh of relief knowing that he had bypassed any possibility of becoming an inmate of their wards. Mike, having already escaped the hospital at least once under threat of confinement in the dark of night, wearing only a gown and dragging his IV pole behind him, would no doubt be proud of this accomplishment. He left this world as he would have wanted, with no fuss on his part and his Honda Goldwing motorcycle close beside him (even if it was in a Harley trailer).
Michael Chadwick Brown was born May 13, 1955 to William R. Brown and Beatrice A. (Chadwick) Brown in Ann Arbor. He spent the next several decades of life raising hell in Traverse City, prompting strong reactions and occasional insults from all who met him. As a 25-year professional firefighter with the City of Traverse City, president of Professional Firefighters local 646 and Traverse City Fire Department fire captain, he earned the unwavering loyalty of his crew, who will surely never tell you about that one time he sleep-walked out of the station in the parade golf cart, wearing only his "pajamas" (ahem). One of his most beloved activities through the fire department was the annual toy drive, for which he tirelessly field-tested all things with wheels and engines before wrapping them up for Santa to give away. One could often find him pulling wheelies with a tricycle in the hallway or speed-testing scooters on the treadmill. He gave his heart and soul to his community through his work and loved his crew deeply.
As he was a hero to those he rescued, he, too, was a hero to his family. He leaves behind his wife of 35 years, Mary Brown-McChrystal (known as "that saint who put up with him"); a son, Ryan, his snowmobile, dirt-biking and ice boating buddy who accepted all his dad's dares; daughter, Shawn, with whom he gleefully exchanged gruesome medical emergency stories; Jason, his son-in-law and partner in crime, who rode, drank and sparred with him whenever possible; and three grandchildren, Riley, Evelyn and Gannon, who will undoubtedly continue on in his spirit, terrorizing their parents and grandmother with all manner of dare-devil antics. He also leaves behind his parents, Bill and Bea, ever patient and beleaguered by Mike's antics; brothers, Bob (Dawn) and Nick, who will no longer have to live in fear of the mustard squirt assaults; sisters, Jill (Chip) and Beth (Bob), who endured decades of teasing and jokes; and a slew of aunts, cousins, nephews, nieces and his beloved in-laws, the McChrystal clan.
He was preceded in death by his uncles, Bobby, Chuck, Bill, Walt and Bob; and his beloved grandparents, who were undoubtedly waiting upstairs to take him by the ear.
To visit with Mike's spirit, stick your toes in the shores of Lake Superior, light a bonfire and toast a bourbon to his memory. He was a smart aleck, a grumpy curmudgeon and above all, deeply loved.
Published on February 25, 2018
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Traverse Bay United Methodist Church