Obituary: Michael Lee Volkhardt

Michael Lee Volkhardt has passed from this life to be with his Father in Glory!  Mike was an incredible man, son, brother, father, husband, uncle, grandpa, friend and step dad.  Mike was born in Niles Michigan and graduated high school from Ottawa Hills in Grand Rapids, MI.  His youth was filled with fun activities including water skiing and boating on Gun Lake, horses, and being a high school rebel by being the first to wear blue jeans to school!  Following high school, Mike attended Rochester Institute of Technology where he studied lithography.  After working for DuPont and Beck Engraving for a few years, Mike joined his father (John) back in Grand Rapids at the family business: Photolith Inc.

During his early adult years, Mike married his first wife (Janet) and had three beautiful children: Scott, Mike Jr, and Heidi.  Years later, Mike met and married his second wife, (Lynda) and acquired three more “step” kids/adults:  Scott, Kerry and Katie.  Even with work and his big new family, Mike found time to enjoy his passion:  sailing.  Many fabulous memories were made with family and good friends sailing out of Anchorage Marina in Holland, Michigan.

Mike remained with the family business until the late 90’s when he started experiencing heart problems.  At this time, he took a disability retirement due to the need for a heart transplant.  From this point in Mike’s life until his passing, there was never a dull moment when it came to his health status!

It is nothing short of a miracle that Mike was with us this long. He had extensive cardiovascular issues over the years and cheated death of its sting at least 5 times in 19 years.  One of the most amazing qualities about Mike was that never did he complain about anything!  He took all “hits” with the most incredible attitude.  He was a fighter.  He always “bounced back”.  So much so that only 4 years after his transplant and other serious illness, he had the fortitude to start a retail business with his wife Lynda; Right at Home in Rockford.  After four successful years in business, Mike purchased the historical Hessler Opera House building which would become the store’s new location. Right at Home remained open for 12 years, closing in 2015.  Mike and Lynda were blessed with incredible gals that worked at the store.  These women became “family” and were one of the reasons the store could remain open for as long as it did.  In spite of all he faced and had to endure physically, Mike had the warmest smile and conversation for all the customers!

In addition to the store, Mike filled his days manicuring his lawn, playing with his dogs and giving his grandchildren tractor rides!  He surely loved kids!  He was just a giant teddy bear. And did we mention he was a fabulous cook?!

Michigan’s harsh winters proved to be a little too much to handle given Mike’s health issues so in 2015, Mike and Lynda closed the business and made the move to warm, sunny Florida.   The past two years were rough.  Mike lost a leg due to extreme vascular issues.  Even so, he just kept going!  We called him the energizer bunny!   In addition, he would get himself to dialysis three days a week.  He was amazing.

This year, Mike finally decided he was tired, very tired.  He talked long and hard with his Creator, was right with Jesus and ready to go Home.  The last two weeks of his life were filled with family, friends, old photos, reminiscing, smiles and even a boat ride.

We will always remember Mike for his incredible kindness, gentle spirit, gift of gab, and generosity.  This world has lost an extraordinary man but he’s left us with wonderful memories that will make us smile and laugh until we see him again in heaven.  We love you Dad, Grandpa, Uncle Mike, Captain Magic!

Mike’s last boat ride two weeks before he died