Michael Edward Leahy, 77, passed away Sept. 13, 2019 at Country Terrace assisted living in Minocqua. He was born to Ralph and Audrey Leahy on Jan. 10, 1942. The night he was born was cold, and the Cochrane Indians had just defeated the Alma Rivermen in a basketball game. Basketball, and other sports, would come to be very important to Mike. 

He graduated from Cochrane-Fountain City High School in 1960, Winona State University in 1965, and received his masters degree from Winona State in 1972. His daughter, Shannon, put on a dance performance in the aisle while the masters candidates walked on stage to receive their degrees. He was an exceptional athlete, playing football, basketball, baseball, and track in high school and also in college at Winona State. Competition was second nature to Mike, and he received many accolades for his strong playing and coaching ability. 

Mike loved coaching basketball the most, especially his years in Glenwood City, where he made lifelong friends with his players. They once beat Eau Claire Memorial by a score of 50-49, a David and Goliath story, as the Eau Claire School enrollment was greater than the entire population of Glenwood City. Mike had his all-time best basketball season there as well, with a record of 19 wins and 2 losses. 

He married Judy McNally on Aug. 22, 1964. They met in an American history class while attending Winona State University. He proposed to her by putting the ring inside a pair of socks he had borrowed from her. When asked if she noticed anything about the socks, she kindly commented on how her mom would be able to get them whiter on the next washing. This summer was their 55th wedding anniversary.

To that union one daughter was born on Nov. 14, 1970, where soon after, Mike made a misstep by not picking up Judy and the new baby girl from the hospital in the “good” car. Shannon Marie, was the apple of her dad’s eye. She continued his legacy in sports and also became a teacher. He rarely, if ever, missed any of her events, always offering suggestions from the sidelines … much to her chagrin.  

Mike also loved playing softball in the Minocqua area until the ripe young age of 73, consistently making solid hits down the right field line as a left handed batter, for teams like Trapp Brothers, the Islanders and Ross Sportswear. He taught physical education and coached at Lakeland High School for a few years in the late ’60s. Then moved to Green Bay, where he taught in Ashwaubenon for 30 years. He took delight in the Packers and enjoyed spotting players around the city. He also enjoyed watching the Badgers, Brewers, and Bucks. Coaching from the couch was a common occurrence during these games. Appreciated gifts, often had a Packer or other Wisconsin sports team emblem on them.    

Growing up in Buffalo City, Wisc., on the banks of the Mississippi River, he grew to love everything about boats and motors. He ran a small marine business in the summers, getting to know and enjoy boat customers. One could hear motors running and being tuned up in the early morning hours, much to the dismay of any neighbors hoping to sleep in.  

After retirement, Mike and Judy moved permanently to “The Cottage” on Mid Lake. A special spot to all Leahy family members and others, as the original cottage, built in 1954, was owned by his beloved grandparents Volney and Laura Ames whose main house was many miles away on the Island of Minocqua. As a child, Mike treasured his time spent in Minocqua where boating, swimming, and waterskiing were favorite pastimes.        

He loved to fish, especially for muskies, in Minocqua and also Nestor Falls in Ontario, Canada. One cold and buggy late night at the falls, he caught three muskies in three casts (48 inches, 43 inches, and 39 inches), and that folks is not a tall fish tale, as Doug, his son-in-law, was a witness. His all-time biggest musky was a 54-inch monster, caught in the French River in Ontario, Canada. He loved to duck hunt as well in Minocqua and on the Mississippi River, even spending the night out on the water in his boat in order to get the best spot. Deer hunting in Oak Valley and the surrounding bluffs of Buffalo County was also an annual highlight, once bagging a 220 pound field dressed thick tined 8 point buck, with a shot gun at 165 yards.

Mike’s last year was spent in an assisted living facility, he was known there for his antics. Walking to Kwik Trip one night was not one of his better ideas. He loved being outside and collecting leaves, rocks, and ants which he also brought inside to show the staff. A three wheeled bike of a neighbor caught his interest, he thought it was fun to take for rides. The bike’s owner didn’t find it quite as funny. 

His sense of humor, and outspoken ways were a part of his personality. His gift of story and joke telling drew people to him and kept everyone in the room laughing. He enjoyed taking trips to places like Ireland, Hawaii, Alaska, Maine, Florida, the Bahamas, Texas, Wyoming, and California. Snowmobiling and going to races during the winter months was another favorite activity. He was generous to others, especially with candy and sweet treats. ADHD kept him talking, working hard, always willing to help others, and in constant motion.  The only time he seemed to slow down was to read newspapers and peruse the sale flyers. During which you might hear a retelling of some article he had read or “Hey Jude, prunes are on sale.” In the winter months he took great pride in obsessively shoveling, leaf blowing, and scraping every snowflake off of the driveway and sidewalk, making it appear as if they were heated at all times. Leaves also did not stand a chance in the fall months, and were quickly removed from the lawn.

He said when he got near the end of his life, his wish was to be put in an old wooden boat, and pushed out to float in the water. However, his family was to keep an eye on the boat, because if he “got to feeling better he would wave.”  

Mike’s family consisted of four siblings; Patrick (Ruth) Leahy, Mary (Dave) Siefert, Timothy (Georgia) Leahy, and Kevin (Jemay) Leahy. He was especially close to Pat. His mother said that Pat and Mike kept her active when they were little. Shenanigans with his brother included some chocolate pudding ending up on the ceiling via dart gun during a family meal, and throwing water balloons in the intake fan at the Minocqua laundromat. He was teased about the fact that his dad, as a school administrator, said Mike had the second highest IQ in Buffalo County. That was brought up to him whenever he did something less than stellar. Pat said coming in second was the same as losing.

Mike was preceded in death by his parents and siblings Patrick and Timothy. He is survived by his wife Judy, daughter Shannon (Douglas) Steiner, brothers-in-law; Gerald (Beverly) McNally, James (Sheila) McNally, Charles (Paula) McNally, and Dean McNally. Also survived by many loved nieces, nephews and their families, as well as many dear friends near and far. 

The family extends our heartfelt thanks for the wonderful care and love Mike got at Country Terrace, the staff there were his family and helped him so much at the end of his life. We also thank Pastime Club for their wonderful program, and Dr. Thomas Gabert for his exemplary care.

Funeral & Mass Service at Holy Family Catholic Church in Woodruff on Friday, Sept. 20. Visitation will be at 10 a.m., funeral at 11 a.m., followed by a luncheon at noon. (8950 County Hwy J, Woodruff)

A memorial Service will be held at Cathedral of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Winona, Minn., in October. Arrangements pending.

Memorial donations can be made to: Pastime Adult Day Center (P.O. Box 276, Minocqua, WI 54548) and Arbor Vitae-Woodruff School Education Foundation (11065 Old Hwy. 51 N., Woodruff, WI 54568) 

Online condolences may be shared at www.nimsgernfuneral.com. Nimsgern Funeral & Cremation Services is serving the family.