We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Gaffney Funeral Home
Mike was born the youngest of four boys (brothers Tom, Dan, Rick) to Kathleen and John “Jack” Andersen at Swedish Hospital in Seattle, Washington. He found peace surrounded by daughter Ellen, son Charles, brother Tom, Dana Andersen Conway and Justin Graves along with an escort of prayers and love from an unending procession of the people who embraced him. He leaves a huge void and lifelong memories in the hearts of so many.
Mike emanated a unique combination of humility and strength. He brought an infectious laughter, no holds bar affection and bigger than life personality to every room he entered. He had a huge heart full of extraordinary compassion and sensitivity and was known to “cry at the drop of a hat”, never hesitating to show his emotions. His sense of humor and quick wit produced genius one-liners (comic material contributed in part by Tom and Jack!) and clever nick names warmly embraced by most, not so much by others! He enjoyed the outdoors, golfing, fishing and razor clam digging (“He always got his limit…and then helped others who struggled to spot and dig…..all old school, with a clam shovel!). He was never shy to show his love for music, spontaneously singing and dancing whenever the mood struck him. And Mike especially loved time at the Hoh River cabin where all of his family vacations were spent growing up. The “Hoh” represented a considerable part of his life, introduced to him and his brothers by his Mom and the Lewis family. It was a “no brainer” to purchase the cabin next door with brother Tom when it became available, to share with his children and build on his treasured rain forest and Olympic Mountain memories.
Downing Elementary was where Mike began his formal education, moving to Holy Cross, Truman and Jason Lee Jr High schools. Mike graduated from Stadium High School in 1979, voted “Peppiest” in his class (“Mr. Congeniality” would be a more fitting description of Mike’s legacy!). Football scholarships to Spokane Falls Community College and Eastern Washington University led him to a teaching and coaching career, including AP History Teacher and Head Football Coach at Mount Tahoma High School and member of the Tacoma Police Department Bacon Bowl coaching staff for several years. He was a beloved teacher, known for “never giving up on his students” and “cared about the kids who tried but couldn’t”. He was a God-fearing man who often served others more than himself, earning trust and respect from students and staff by giving his time and heart whenever he could.
Mike was a gifted and accomplished athlete from a very young age. He exuded a humble pride, if such a character combination could exist, for the recognition that his hard work and dedication earned him as a fearless and formidable competitor, having been considered “one of the two best athletes ever coached” by one of his most favorite football coaches. He was considered a leader with the heart of a lion by schoolmates and staff, accumulating a lengthy list of honors for his contribution to his teams on and off the field. The list is too long to detail here today but deserves mention of the highlights, beginning with multiple, repeated All-City awards throughout Junior High and High School and culminating with recognition throughout his college football career as follows: At Spokane Falls Community College, Mike was voted Team MVP and Team Captain, selected for the All-League First Team and named League MVP. He was ultimately inducted into the Spokane Falls Community College Football Hall of Fame. Mike was again voted Team Captain and MVP at Eastern Washington University prior to the school becoming a member of the Big Sky League or it is believed by his teammates that he would have continued to generate the league recognition that he accumulated at the community college level. But despite the abundance of these sports-related accolades, Mike considered his greatest achievement in life to be father of Ellen and Charles.
Mike is preceded in death by his parents, brothers Daniel and Rick and many additional dear relatives who shared memorable gatherings during the special occasions of his life. He is survived by his daughter Ellen, son Charlie, brother Tom, Ellen and Charlie’s Mom Dana, and an abundance of family and friends too many to count! Family would tell you his personality filled the room; friends would say hanging out with him was like being “in the company of a rock star”! And many more would say ”he was someone you’ll never forget”. It is an understatement to say he will be missed.
A Funeral Mass will be held at Holy Cross Catholic Church, 5510 No. 44th St. on Friday June 10th at 11:00am, followed by a reception in the Parish Hall. A Celebration of Life will be held at the Slavonian Hall, 2306 N. 30th St. on Saturday, June 11th from 3 to 6pm. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations made in Mike’s honor to the charity of your choice. Inurnment at Calvary Cemetery and release of ashes at the Hoh River will be determined at a later date. Online condolences can be left at www.gaffneyfuneralhome.com. Arrangements by Gaffney Funeral Home, 253-572-6003.